8 of polling team killed in Maoist attack: Jharkhand top cop admits mistakes

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The Jharkhand police have admitted to ‘mistakes’ after three polling officials and five policemen were killed on Thursday evening when the bus they were traveling in hit a landmine allegedly planted by the Maoists in the Dumka district.

A dozen more policemen were injured in the blast, which took place when the team was returning after the days polling. Dumka was among the four parliamentary constituencies in Jharkhand which voted in the sixth round of the staggered national election.

“We were well prepared for the first phase but it seems in the third phase, we made mistakes,” said Rajeev Kumar, a top police officer.

Mr. Kumar said traveling by bus on such a sensitive route was wrong. The team, he said, should have been on foot. “We will analyse and fix responsibility,” he said.

Questions have been raised about why the polling team was not ferried by choppers in an area known for Maoist violence, and why bridges they would use were not combed for bombs earlier.

Reports say voting will take place again at one polling booth after electronic voting machines were destroyed.

This is the second deadly attack by suspected Maoists since the nine-phase national election began earlier this month. On April 12, as many as 13 people, including poll officials and jawans, were killed in two Maoist strikes in Chhattisgarh.

The first attack took place in the Darbha Valley in Sukma district. Five jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed and six others were injured when Maoists allegedly blew up an ambulance. A technician who was seriously hurt in the attack, died the next morning.

Less than an hour later, and 160 km away in Bijapur, Maoists blew up a bus in which the poll officials were returning. Five poll officials, the bus driver and its cleaner were killed while three others were injured.