Stepping up their attacks, Maoists on Thursday struck in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, killing 17 people, including five election officials and ten security personnel, and looted electronic voting machines in a bid to disrupt the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha.
Naxalites blew up a vehicle carrying poll officials in Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon district, killing five of them and injuring two others, police said.
They attacked polling booths and exchanged fire with security forces in Dandewada and Narainpur areas in the state, they said, adding that one CRPF jawan died of bullet wounds and five others were injured in Maruki in Dandewada, about 350 km from Raipur.
Casualty among the ultras was not known.
The naxals struck at Mangnar and Jangampal in Dantewada district and in Nernar, Sonapal and Karmari in Narainpur region, around 250 km from the Raipur, Additional Director General of Police Girdhari Nayak said.
A day after attacking CRPF, the Maoists targeted a bus carrying BSF personnel in Jharkhand's Latehar area by triggering a landmine blast at around 7.30 am leading to the death of seven personnel from the border force besides the civilian driver and helper, and injuries to several others.
Deputy Commissioner Sarvendu Tathagat in Latehar, about 125 km from Ranchi, said the BSF personnel were returning from Ladhup to Arah after having carried of patrolling duty in Naxal strongholds. A helicopter has flown to the spot for rescue operations, he said.
A homeguard and a police personnel on poll duty were shot dead and another injured by naxals in Singhpur village under Bankebazaar police station in Bihar's Gaya district, police said. Two other police personnel were missing.
Maoists set afire at least three polling booths, destroying electronic voting machines and other poll material in Orissa's Malkangiri district. Polling was disrupted in the area.
The ultras, who have given a call for poll boycott, struck at Andrahal in Chitrakonda area setting ablaze a vehicle on election duty and two EVMs after tying the hands of poll officials, Malkangiri district collector Nitin Bhanudas Jawle said. As a result, polling could not be held in the booth, he said.
Two polling booths were set ablaze by the Maoists in Salimarikonda and MV-73 in Kalimela police station area, Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi said, adding the EVMs in the booths were also set afire by the ultras.
The Maoists also blocked roads in Mathili area of the district by felling trees and placing boulders preventing movement of polling officials as well as voters.
Due to Maoist threat, not a single vote was cast in Badigata polling station in Kalimela area during the first two hours of voting with people failing to turn up.
Polling remained very low elsewhere in the district, particularly in areas covering Chitrakonda and Malkangiri assembly constituencies, Jawle said.
An attack bid by Naxals in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra was foiled as polling in the
Naxal-infested areas of Vidarbha region picked up momentum, a top Home department official said.
"There was some firing attempt in Venigunta region in the morning but nothing more. The situation is now under control," Maharashtra's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar told PTI over phone.
"Touchwood. So far, so good," Iyengar said when asked about check on Naxal activities at a time when in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Naxals killed a CRPF personnel in attacks on polling booths in Dantewada and Narainpur regions.