The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading the movement against land acquisition for the project, identified the deceased as Manas Jena (32), Nabanu Mandal (35), Narahari Sahoo (52) and Laxman Paramanik. They were active members of the anti-POSCO movement.

At least four persons were killed when a bomb went off on Saturday evening at Patna village — which comes under the area for the proposed POSCO steel plant — in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, about 150 km from here.

The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading the movement against land acquisition for the project, identified the deceased as Manas Jena (32), Nabanu Mandal (35), Narahari Sahoo (52) and Laxman Paramanik. They were active members of the anti-POSCO movement, the samiti claimed.

“Some goons hired for facilitating the setting up of the mega steel plant by POSCO India Private Limited hurled bombs at our activists. The miscreants were actually targeting Abhaya Sahoo, president of PPSS. But they did not have clear visibility in the dark. As a result, the other four died in the bombing,” alleged PPSS spokesperson Prasant Paikray. The PPSS strongly condemned this “barbaric and inhuman killing of innocent villagers” and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits.

The district administration, however, contradicted its claims. “We have received unconfirmed reports about the death of three persons. The place, where the explosion took place, has been out of bounds to police and project supporters for several years. So the claim of some people hurling bombs is incorrect,” Superintendent of Police Satyabrat Bhoi told The Hindu over telephone.

“As per the information trickling in from the area, the bombs went off when the people opposed to the steel project were preparing explosives in their backyards,” Mr. Bhoi said.

The incident happened at a time when the State government is preparing to resume land acquisition. On February 3, hundreds of armed police personnel forced their way into Gobindpur village and dismantled a few betel vineyards.

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