Exposed to deadly Maoist ambushes along highways, the army has been relying increasingly on air support to subdue the Maoists but strafing and bombings has lead to higher civilian casualties. The army is using 81mm and 120mm mortar rounds called "Tora Bora" dropped from helicopters. After the Thokarpa raid last week, tail fin parts of the army's new 200mm bombs were found.
The Maoists said they shot down the helicopter and claimed this \'glorious victory\' ushered in a new phase in the war. In February, Maoist leaders admitted being vulnerable to aerial attacks and had been firing at choppers using GPMGs. The army says it is investigating the crash but one military expert told us it could have been caused by ordnance exploding on board. However, the army could now be tempted to buy even more sophisticated helicopter gunships to counter Maoist capabilities.