Ten policemen and their driver were killed on Thursday when their minivan was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, officials said.
The policemen were returning from an anti-Maoist operation that was launched after intelligence inputs, they said.
The policemen belonged to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), a special force of the Chhattisgarh police that comprises mostly local tribals who have been trained to combat Maoists.
The DRG has been instrumental in several successful operations against the rebels in Bastar, a hotbed of left-wing extremism.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel following the attack and assured all possible help.
“The news of the martyrdom of our 10 DRG jawans and a driver due to an IED blast targeting the DRG force which had arrived for anti-Naxal operation on the information of the presence of Maoist cadre under Aranpur police station area of Dantewada is very sad. We share the grief of their families. May their soul rest in peace,” Mr Baghel tweeted.
The Maoists, also known as Naxals, have waged an armed insurgency against the government that has killed hundreds of people over six decades. They say they are fighting on behalf of the poorest, who have been left out of the country’s economic boom.
Since 1967 the group seen as the greatest threat to the country’s internal security have asserted control over vast swathes of land in central and eastern India, establishing a so-called “red corridor”. They operate from thick forests, and their operations against the Indian administration and forces are shrouded in secrecy.