At least 15 security personnel and a driver were killed after suspected Maoists attacked a police vehicle in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra on Wednesday, reported PTI. A gunfight is under way between the police and suspected Maoists at the site of blast, ANI reported. The attackers reportedly used an improvised explosive device.

Maharashtra Director General of Police Subodh Jaiswal said it would be incorrect to term the attack an “intelligence failure”, reported ANI. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis condemned the attack and said the government would “fight this menace”.

The blast took place when the police vehicle reached Lendhari nallah in Kurkheda area of Gadchiroli. The deceased were members of the Quick Response Team of Gadchiroli police, PTI quoted an official as saying.

The Quick Response Team was on its way to inspect the site where, earlier in the day, suspected Maoists had torched at least 25 vehicles of a road construction company in Kurkheda administrative division around 3.30 am.

Jaiswal called it a “dastardly attack” and said the police will try its best to ensure such incidents are not repeated. “We are prepared to give a befitting reply to this attack,” Jaiswal said. “Operations are going on in the area to ensure that no further casualties take place.” Jaiswal said police personnel are at the spot of the attack and more information will be available later in the evening.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs’ families,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Twitter. “I’m in touch with DGP and Gadchiroli SP. I strongly condemn this attack and we will fight this menace with even more and stronger efforts. I also spoke to Hon Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and briefed him about the situation in Maharashtra.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack and said the perpetrators of the blast will not be spared. “I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten,” Modi said on Twitter.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the attack on the police personnel was “an act of cowardice and desperation”. “We are extremely proud of the valour of our police personnel. Their supreme sacrifice while serving the nation will not go in vain. My deepest condolences to their families.”

Singh said he spoke to Fadnavis and that the Centre was providing all assistance needed by the state government. “MHA is in constant touch with the state administration,” he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah condoled the death of the security personnel. “Anguished to learn about the cowardly attack on our security personnel in the Gadchiroli area of Maharashtra,” he said on Twitter. “Loss of life of these brave soldiers is an irreparable loss. Their sacrifices will not go in vain. My deepest condolences with the bereaved families.”

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said he was “deeply pained” by the attack on security personnel. He expressed his condolences to the families of those who died in the attack.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala condemned the attack and said the sacrifices of the security personnel will not go in vain. “390 Jawans have been martyred in Naxal attacks in past 5 years that expose hollow claims by Modi govt of securing India,” he tweeted.

On April 9, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Bheema Mandavi was among five people killed in a suspected Maoist attack on his convoy in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh. The incident took place just two days before the Lok Sabha elections on April 11.