Maoists show off strength, blow up 13 Jharkhand cops - The Times of India GARHWA/RANCHI: In yet another gruesome operation, Maoists on Saturday triggered a landmine blast near Garhwa district's Lalmatia village on Jharkhand's border with Chhattisgarh, killing 13 policemen. It was the second big attack since last November's killing of Maoist ideologue Kishenji in Bengal's Jangalmahal area. Eleven security personnel were killed in a blast that targeted the cavalcade of Independent Lok Sabha MP Inder Singh Namdhari in Latehar in December. Saturday's blast, which hit an anti-landmine vehicle carrying the cops around 11.15am, was so powerful that it threw the armoured vehicle several feet in the air and left it badly mangled as it came down crashing to the ground. The sound of the blast echoed as far as Bhandaria village, 4km away. As if to prove again that they had a free run of the place, Maoist guerillas kept local newsmen in captivity for two hours after the blast and even held a press conference. All the combatants involved in Saturday's attack came without their faces covered. Eyewitnesses said these men, numbering 30 to 40, were all in their 20s and wore military fatigues. They said police should stop Operation Green Hunt, the multi-force offensive against Naxals in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Maoists also demanded an end to what they called assassinations of "revolutionary leaders" in fake encounters. The guerillas took away all the arms and ammunition the cops were carrying. The policemen were escorting Bhandaria BDO Basu Deo Prasad to Badgarh where villagers had put up a blockade since early morning in protest against the construction of a primary health centre in a market. The villagers were demanding that the health centre be shifted to another site and the BDO had gone to negotiate with them, said deputy superintendent of police Madhu Sudan. The BDO escaped unhurt as his vehicle crossed the spot only minutes before the blast. The dead included Bhandaria police station SHO Raj Bali Chaudhary, ASI Haricharan Ram, head constables Pappu Kumar and Sujit Kumar and jawans Vishwanath Soren, Kedanial Soren, Sandeep Pandey, Sandeep Jha, Deo Narayan Bhagat, Phagu, Shiv Kumar Paswan, Vinod Kumar and driver Sunil Kumar. State police spokesman and IG R K Mallik said the Maoists took away 14 weapons. "A combing operation has been launched by police and CRPF to nab the killers," he said.