Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Security lapse

At Sankhu, the police were busy watching a football game on Ntv when they heard gunfire and ran outside to see what was happening. A large group of Maoists were storming the station. Police inspector Indra Badur Lama came face-to-face with one militant. He tried to take his gun out but was felled by another Maoist. After seeing him die, the rest of the police staff surrendered and those who tried to flee were attacked. Five were killed and 11 injured. The rebels ran over the police post in just 10 minutes and seized 15 .303 rifles, three Mausers, eight shotguns, 36 hand grenades, a communication set, mobile phone, two tear gas guns and 2,400 bullets. The attack was well planned.

Locals had seen two young men on a motorcycle scouting the area. The police did not bother to check them although they were seen to be moving in and out of the place several times. Just an hour before the attack, three to four young men had come asking for work at a construction site. They pretended to move bricks. At 4.45 PM when the attack began, the men pretending to be construction workers took out weapons from their jackets and started firing at the police post. More Maoists moved in from the bus station shouting at local residents to pull down their shutters. Many police personnel were seen fleeing. Those who tried to shoot back were attacked. They also heard the rebel commander shouting orders not to shoot at fleeing police and at the public. Some of the attackers were women.

More than 65 militants were involved in the attack led by Commander 'Sabin' from Rolpa and Commissar 'Dinesh' from Sindhupalchok. Only 25 of them were actually involved in storming the police station, the rest were guarding the four main entry points to Sankhu. After their successful attack, one group left through the jungle near Bajrajogini Temple and the other headed towards the south of Changu Narayan. The remaining sped off towards Kathmandu on their motorcycles through Dachi. The rebels used a bus loaded with people who were returning from a picnic. Although Inspector Lama had radioed for help before being killed, help came only after 90 minutes. For half and hour after the attack, the rebels were seen wandering leisurely in Sankhu Bajar. It was 7PM when an army helicopter finally came from the nearby airport. There are several army posts in the vicinity, including Nagarkot. The question is: why didn't any of them come help the beleaguered police? This indicates a lack of coordination between the security bodies. Intelligence inside the capital is also ineffective. The Maoists have been quite successful in their psywar strategy. All it took were some fake socket bombs to spook the police. Before the attack, the Maoists spread the false rumour that they had planted a bomb at a bridge near Khulaltar and the police were busy looking for it. In the end the blame must go to the Sankhu police for not being better prepared. Since it was Saturday, most of the policemen were in a holiday mood, neglecting their duty. Several police personnel were loitering in the market, playing carrom and watching television. Not one rebel was hurt during the attack.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)