Taking advantage of sparse presence of security forces that have been spread out throughout the country on poll duties, the Maoists carried out a landmine blast in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district on Sunday morning killing seven personnel of specialised C-60 anti-naxal operations force of Maharashtra Police.
The incident occurred at 9:40am when the commandos were moving for an operational task in the forest between Pavimuranda and Murmuri villages in Chamorshi taluka of Gadchiroli that lies on the north-west of Abujhmaad forests, a stronghold of the Maoists.
The blast took place when their vehicle was moving along the Murmuri-Chamuri axis of the district.
After the landmine blast, the Maoists ambushed the remaining jawans. There was an exchange of fire between the police and Maoists and firing was going on in the forest area till the last reports came, police said.
"We have lost seven of our men in the attack carried out by naxalites. The incident occurred in Gadchiroli district," a senior police officer said.
The injured have been airlifted to Nagpur while additional reinforcements of security personnel have been sent in hot pursuit of the Maoists responsible for the landmine blast, police said.
The deceased policemen were identified as Deepak Vighawe, Sunil Madavi, Rohan Dambare, Subhash Kumre, Tirupati Alam, Laxman Munde and Duryodhan Naktode.
The seriously injured police personnel -- Pankaj Shidam and Hemant Bansod -- were flown to Nagpur where they were admitted in hospital.
The landmine had been planted under a bridge across a river near Murmuri on Talodhi-Yedanur road, police said.
The police team was travelling in four vehicles and the blast hit the third vehicle in the convoy when it had just crossed the bridge.
The blast was so powerful that the vehicle was blown to pieces, police said.