At least seven police personnel were killed and five injured in a landmine blast triggered by suspected Maoists in Odisha's Koraput district on Wednesday, police said.
Police said the incident took place on National Highway 26 at Mungabhumi village under Pottangi police station on the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border, when the personnel were travelling in a van to Cuttack for training.
"Seven personnel of the district police have been killed while five injured in the landmine blast. They were going for training as assistant drivers," Koraput Superintendent of Police Charan Singh Meena told IANS.
The injured persons have been admitted to hospitals.
The blast comes just about two weeks before the three-tier panchayat polls in the state. Maoists have given a boycott call in Malkangiri district and other extremist-affected districts.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described the incident as "an act of cowardice" and expressed his condolence to the deceased families.
"Strongly condemn the cowardly act & condole martyrdom of police personnel in the landmine blast. My deep sympathies with bereaved families," tweeted Patnaik.
Strongly condemn the cowardly act & condole martyrdom of police personnel in landmines blast. My deep sympathies with bereaved familiesâ€” Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) February 1, 2017
â€” dinesh akula (@dineshakula) February 1, 2017