The CPI(Maoist) on Sunday denied their involvement in the Thursday’s carnage in which 16 people were killed in Bihar’s Khagaria district.

“It is certainly not the operation carried out by our cadres... and we are still not aware who perpetrated the violence,” a senior CPI (Maoist) leader, pleading anonymity, told a group of mediapersons.

“Generally, we use to leave handbills and pamphlets attributing the reasons for the action... in the instant case no such materials have been recovered from the carnage-site justifying the operation,” he said.

“As police grope in dark about the investigation, different stories are being planted about the operation... I don’t know whether our ex-cadres have been involved in it,” he added.

When contacted, ADG (headquarters) Neelmani said police suspected the carnage as “a handiwork of ex-cadres of the ultra-left outfit.”

Sixteen people, mostly teenagers, were shot dead at Amosi Bharen under Murkahi police station in Khagaria district on Thursday.

Mr. Neelmani said the preliminary investigations had revealed involvement of Gurran Sada and his gang.

Sada was a self-styled area commander of the outfit before he parted ways with the Maoists, according to police.

It has by now proved that the prolonged dispute over a piece of land being cultivated by the victims at Amosi was the central reason for the assault on the villagers, police said.

“The IG (operation) S K Bhardwaj and IG (Bhagalpur zone) A R Kini are going into the details of the operation and the guilty won’t be spared,” Mr. Neelmani said.

The officials said that role of some revenue officials at Khagaria in allowing cultivation of the disputed land was also being looked into.

Bihar Military Police, Special Task Force (STF) and Special Auxiliary police (SAP) were jointly carrying out raids in different areas in Saharsa, Khagaria and Naugachhia to track down the killers.

So far 15 persons were arrested in connection with the killing and ten others detained, Mr. Neelmani said.