New Delhi: Security forces conducting operations in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states have been directed to be extra vigilant in view of enhanced IED attacks and an all-time high recovery of over 5,000 kg of the deadly bombs in these areas.
With back-to-back incidents of security forces personnel and civilians being targeted by using these bombs in the affected states in the recent past, Central security agencies and the operations command of the CRPF have ordered a "strict observance" of operating procedures, usage of sniffer dogs, absolute discard of vehicles and effective gathering of intelligence every time a patrol goes out or an operation is executed.
A report prepared by these agencies states that as many as 1,702 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) weighing about 5,908 kgs have been recovered from the LWE-affected states last year.
The report, accessed by PTI, states that during 2014, only 523 IEDs were recovered and they weighed about half of what was recovered in 2015.
What has worried the security establishment is the fact that fatal injuries and casualties have occurred to the troops of Central forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and those from state police units.
"Gun battles are reducing between security forces and Naxals. It has been analysed that Maoist cadres are low on weapons and obviously no match with the security forces when it comes to fire power. Hence, IED attacks of the deadly variety are increasing," a senior official working in the anti-Naxal operations domain said.
While 19 troops lost their lives in the line of duty due to IED blasts and 67 got injured (with six amputations) in 2014, the next year saw three personnel getting killed and 47 injured (three personnel had to undergo amputation).
"Maoists have elevated IED warfare on the security forces using a cocktail of command wire IEDs to victim operated IEDs to radio controlled ones. They are capable of launching rocket attacks on camps of security forces, blowing mine proof vehicles apart and creating a minefield for targeting a foot patrol. So, wherever the forces are in conflict zones they can be targeted," the report said.
The official added, "Now, in the first about four months of this year, we are witnessing a spurt in IED related casualties and injuries again. While nine personnel lost their lives, 13 have been injured and two had to undergo amputation during this time period. About 250 such improvised bombs have been recovered this year."
The last year, the data said, also witnessed the recovery of the highest number of detonators—at 20,871—used to trigger these IEDs. In 2014, the numbers were a mere 6,643.
"An advisory has been issued again to the forces keeping in mind the spurt in these incidents. Every week, such incidents are happening with the maximum being reported from Bastar area of Chhattisgarh. Not only personnel of the security forces, civilians have also become a target of these deadly kill devices," the official said.
The CRPF, mainstay for anti-Naxal operations in the country, has recently admitted that it has witnessed a smart technique of planting these IEDs deep inside 'pucca' roads with Maoists creating 'fox holes and tunnels' to plant these bombs.
One such technique of planting IEDs claimed the lives of seven of its men who were travelling in an un-marked vehicle in order to transport a cooler for a force dog in Chhattisgarh.
In 2015, a total of 41 such incidents of IED explosions took place which was the highest in the last five years, the data said.
In order to buttress the threat level of IEDs, the advisory specifically talks about two incidents where a seven-year-old girl and a woman were killed in Chhattisgarh's Sukma due to IED blasts thereby underlining the fact that even civilians are not safe from the impact of these bombs.