MAC: Mines and Communities

Maoists target Asia's biggest bauxite mine

Published by MAC on 2009-04-20

Seven Central Industrial Security Force soldiers and four Maoists have been killed in gunbattle that began late Sunday night when heavily-armed ultras attacked a well-guarded bauxite mine of public sector giant NALCO in Orissa's Koraput district.

A fierce exchange of fire between security forces and Maoists followed the attack by a large number of ultras on Hiltop bauxite mines in Damanjodi area, Deputy Inspector General of Police (south-west range) Sanjeev Panda said.

The heavily-armed Maoists, numbering about 200, including some women, looted the CISF armoury in the mine area which contained huge quantities of sophisticated arms and ammunition as well as explosives, police sources said.

The well-planned attack, apparently aimed at affecting the upcoming polls and looting weapons, took place shortly after 9.30 pm on Sunday when about 22 CISF personnel were inside a canteen at Asia's biggest bauxite mine.

A group of Maoists also attacked a CISF outpost, some 23 km from the NALCO unit, sources in Delhi said.

Roads leading to the mine were reportedly blocked by the ultras, who were suspected to have laid landmines on the route, hindering movement of securitymen, sources said.

Over 100 workers were feared trapped as the Maoists surrounded the canteen and occupied strategic locations.

Soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force, the elite Special Operation Group and district police force were sent to the site to fight the Maoists, sources said.

The Maoists also blew up a mobile phone tower in the site, they said.

A high alert was sounded in the entire area even as the incident triggered panic among people in the nearby township.

NALCO CMD C R Pradhan said the workers at the site have been probably locked up somewhere but were not harmed.

Pradhan said the Maoists could have targeted the mine for seizing explosives stored there.

"We store explosives for mining operations. Police had earlier asked us to protect the area well, following which the security was beefed up there."

The attack came close on the heels of Maoist strikes in Malkangiri and Rayagada districts. The ultras have killed Samruddha Odisha party candidate for Malkangiri assembly constituency.

They have also given a call for boycott of polls in several districts of Orissa.

In 2004, the Maoists had looted police armoury in Koraput district in a daring attack, while armoury and other police establishments had been attacked and looted by the ultras in February, 2008.


Terrorist battle shuts down Indian bauxite mine. 14 dead


13 April 2009

BHUBANESWAR - Maoist rebels killed 10 policemen in eastern India and shut down a mine operated by state-run National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO) as they stepped up attacks ahead of a general election.

Police said at least 100 rebels attacked a NALCO bauxite mine guarded by police in the mineral-rich state of Orissa late on Sunday.

Four Maoists were also killed during a heavy exchange of fire between the rebels and police, Deepak Kumar, a senior police officer said.

The company said the open pit mine, with a deposit of more than 310 million tonnes of bauxite reserve, would be shut for at least a day as a result of the attack.

The area also houses the company's depot, where a huge quantity of explosives meant for quarrying are stored.

"They attacked during the night shift and trapped nearly 60 employees," senior NALCO official P.K. Mohapatra, told Reuters. The rebels fled after more police reached the area.

The rebels have stepped up attacks in eastern and central India ahead of a general election in April and May, which they are boycotting.

The Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers, have threatened to chop off hands of voters if they went to polling booths.

Thousands have been killed in the Maoist insurgency which began in the late 1960s and now stretches throughout rural areas of eastern, central and southern India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as one of the gravest threats to India's internal security. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Editing by Bappa Majumdar)

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