Gadchiroli: In wake of the dastardly Naxal attack in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday took to Twitter and demanded Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resignation.

Earlier in the day, 16 Maharashtra police personnel lost their lives in an IED blast by Naxals in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli in Jambhurkheda village. Naxals also allegedly set ablaze over 50 machines and vehicles at a road construction site. All the security personnel belonged to the C60 group, that is, the anti-Naxal operation team. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ankush Shinde confirmed the number of casualties.

An exchange of fire is underway between Police and Naxals at the site of the blast. Maharashtra Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had earlier said that the death toll may reach 16. He had said, “We suspect that 15 police jawans and a driver have lost their lives in this incident.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the dastardly attack and said, “Strongly condemn despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. Salute all brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts and solidarity are with bereaved families. Perpetrators of such violence will not be spared.” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also condemned the attack and expressed grief.

Fadnavis said, “Anguished to know that our 16 police personnel from Gadchiroli C-60 force got martyred in a cowardly attack by Naxals today. My thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs’ families. I’m in touch with DGP and Gadchiroli SP.”

As per reports, a road construction and repair work was taking place for which a JCB machine and cement-laden trucks were parked on the roadside. Besides attacking the vehicles, Naxals also bombed a coal tar plant in the Dadapur area.

The police have launched an investigation in the case and have cordoned off the entire area.