Four jawans of the Eastern Frontier Rifles were shot dead by suspected Maoists at Gidhni in the Jamboni area of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Sunday evening, shortly after Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was on a two-day visit to the district, left for Kolkatta.

The killings were followed by a gunfight between security forces and Maoists. There was no immediate report of any further casualty.

Rifles and cartridges belonging to the personnel killed were believed to have been taken away by the assailants.

“Our forces did return fire, but it seems that the attackers escaped into the nearby jungles. Four of the weapons of the jawans are also missing,” Kuldip Singh, Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) told The Hindu on telephone.

The incident took place at 5:30 p.m. at Gidhni, 100 km from Debra where Mr. Bhattacharjee, while addressing a rally in the afternoon, said he was determined to drive Maoists out of the areas in the State’s southwest.

Toll rises

Though elaborate security arrangements were made for the Chief Minister’s visit, the death toll in the district in the killings allegedly carried out by Maoists over the past two days rose to eight.

Four persons, including a worker of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), were killed by suspected Maoists on Saturday.

The Chief Minister and senior officials visited the district to assess the progress of the joint operations launched by security forces on June 18 to flush out Maoists from Lalgarh and its adjoining areas.

Speaking at Midnapore earlier in the day, Mr. Bhattacharjee said though the overall situation had improved, there was need for greater precision on the part of those engaged in the operations.

RELATED NEWS

Lalgarh operation will continue, says PranabNovember 11, 2009