Raipur: Calling it a "cowardly act" on the part of Maoists, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said the strike was not an attack on the Congress or its leaders, but an attack on democratic values.

Congress leaders killed in Maoist attack

"This is a cowardly act. It is not an attack on Congress or its leaders but an attack on democratic values," Sonia Gandhi said, while addressing party workers at the Congress Bhawan.

Lauding the courage of party workers, Gandhi said, "I appreciate the courage and bravery of the leaders who, despite several threats, visited Naxal affected areas."

A convoy of Congress leaders, returning to Jagdalpur after holding a rally near the southern Sukma town, not far from the Andhra Pradesh border, was ambushed in a dense forested area around 5.15 pm on Saturday.

Heavily-armed Maoists carried out a landmine blast and then opened fire, killing 16 people - including Congress leader Mahendra Karma and another party leader - and injuring 25 others.

Congress leader and former union minister VC Shukla was critically injured in the incident. Shukla received three bullets in the indiscriminate firing by the Maoists. The state is headed for assembly elections later this year.


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