New Delhi: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly condemned Wednesday's deadly attack by that left 15 policemen and a driver dead in western Indian state of Maharashtra.
The attack was carried out at Jambhulkheda-Kurkheda in Gadchiroli district, about 916 km east of Mumbai.
According to police, a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by Naxals Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. (local time) blew up a vehicle carrying the policemen.
Modi described the attack as "despicable".
"Strongly condemn the despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts and solidarity are with the bereaved families. The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared," Modi said in a statement posted on twitter.
According to police, of the 16 dead, 15 were police commandos part of quick response team. Photographs from the spot show parts of the vehicle blown apart.
India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed grief over the killing of policemen in the attack and said his ministry was in touch with Maharashtra local government.
Singh said, "Attack on Maharashtra Police personnel in Gadchiroli is an act of cowardice and desperation. We are extremely proud of the valour of our police personnel. Their supreme sacrifice while serving the nation will not go in vain. My deepest condolences to their families.
"We are providing all assistance needed by the state government. Ministry of home affairs is in constant touch with the state administration," Singh added.
The Governor of Maharashtra C. Vidyasagar Rao cancelled a Maharashtra Day event as a mark of respect to the police who lost their lives.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stated, "Whoever has done this the government will take action against them. We are in this together, we will fight this together. My thoughts and prayers go out to those deceased."
India's former prime minister Manmohan Singh once termed the Naxalite movement as India's "greatest internal security challenge".
The insurgency reportedly has claimed more than 6,000 lives and rendered thousands of poor inhabitants homeless. In 2010, at least 76 men of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, the deadliest attack so far.