BJP lawmaker Bhima Mandavi, 40, and four others were killed this evening when Maoists ambushed his convoy in Dantewada region of Chhattisgarh.
The attack at Shyamagiri hills - nearly 350 km from state capital Raipur -- comes two days before the Maoist-infested Bastar area votes in the first phase of national elections. Maoists have warned the locals not to vote in the election -posters carrying their message dot the area. In view of the security issue, the lawmaker was advised against campaigning, but he wished to get his message across to the people, sources said.
Photographs from the spot indicate the Maoists set off a blast through an Improvised Explosive Device that was buried on the road. The blast had ripped apart the bullet-proof vehicle in which the lawmaker was travelling. The mangled pieces can be seen lying some distance from a crater on the road.
Five people died instantly -- most of them suspected to be security personnel accompanying the lawmaker. Sources said when people tried to come out of other cars in the convoy, the Maoists, who were hiding nearby, opened fire. The gunfight that followed is still on, sources said.
The Central Reserve Police Force has rushed reinforcements in the area. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has called for a high-level meeting.