NEW DELHI: In keeping with their promise to expand peoples war in Chhattisgarh and throughout India, Maoists opened heavy fire at an
IAF helicopter killing an officer.
The Mi-8 helicopter, ferrying three injured paramilitary jawans, election officials and electronic voting machines, came under fire from different directions soon after it lifted off from the helipad at Pedia on way to Bijapur, around 5pm.
``The helicopter was barely 30 metres up in the air when it came under fire from automatic weapons like light machine guns... This means the Maoists were close by and the police had not bothered to sanitize the helipad,'' said a senior IAF officer.
The bullets ripped through the helicopter, with one of them hitting flight the engineer, Sergeant Mustafa Ali, on the head. Though no other person was hit by bullets, some suffered heavy bruises because of the ``hard manoeuvring' ' by the pilots.
``The engine, rotor blades and airframe were all hit by the bullets.
The multi-utility Mi-8s, which have a service ceiling of 14,760 feet and maximum speed of 275 kmph, are also armed with a 12.7mm machine gun in the chin as well as four rocket pods.