//Maoists storm jail in Orissa, free 40 prisoners

Maoists storm jail in Orissa, free 40 prisoners

Three officials taken hostage from police station

# Morning raid by extremists, supporters lasts over two hours
# Simultaneous attack on police camp, jail, treasury and tehsil office
# Second major Maoist attack in southern Orissa in recent years

BHUBANESWAR: A large number of armed Maoists stormed a sub-jail in R Udayagiri town of Gajapati district and freed 40 prisoners early on Friday.

They also attacked the local police station and an armed police camp killing three policemen before fleeing with a large cache of arms.

The naxals took hostage the Officer-in-Charge of the police station, Ranjan Mallick, and jailor Rabinarayan Sethi. District Collector Binod Bihari Mohanty, who was camping at the local inspection bungalow, escaped the attack.

200 extremists involved

More than 200 extremists along with an equal number of supporters raided the town from all sides after snapping telephone lines and disrupting electricity supply. The raid that started around 5 a.m. continued till 7.30 a.m.

The Maoists simultaneously attacked the State Armed Police camp, jail, police station, treasury, tehsil office and a telecom tower spreading terror in the town.

In the exchange of fire between the two sides at the police camp, at least three naxalites, including a woman, were killed, but the bodies were taken away by the ultras, Director-General of Police Suchit Das said.

Loot arms

The arms looted from the police camp included 25 self-loading rifles (SLRs), a pistol, a light machine gun and an AK-47 rifle, sources said.

The ultras, who ransacked the police station, burnt stamp papers worth nearly Rs. 40 lakh in the treasury.

Basanta Singh, one of the 40 prisoners released by the Maoists, returned to the jail after the ultras went inside the nearby forests.

Of the three policemen killed, two died on the spot and one died while being taken to a hospital in Berhampur. Another policeman injured in the attack is undergoing treatment.

Although senior police and administration officials reached R Udayagiri to take stock of the situation, there was no information on the whereabouts of the police official and the jailor taken hostage by the extremists till evening.

The naxal attack, similar to the incident in Bihar’s Jehanabad district in November last, is the second major Maoist attack in southern Orissa in the recent years.

Three years ago, the naxalites had raided the district headquarter town of Koraput and looted arms and ammunitions from the district armoury.

Issue raised in Assembly

The R Udaygiri issue was raised in the State Assembly by the Opposition legislators who blamed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the "failure" of the law and order machinery in the State. Mr. Patnaik is holding the Home portfolio.

Meanwhile, a labourer was killed and six others were injured when a landmine went off near Kankadahada Ghati, 15 km away from R Udayagiri. The accident occurred when the authorities were clearing the landmines laid by the naxalites.