A gun battle raged between the security forces and Maoists in the Lakhanpur forest in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district for more than seven hours on Thursday.

According to the police, one jawan of the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) suffered bullet injuries, while two Maoists are suspected to have been either seriously injured or killed.

Many arrested

Several persons were arrested and some landmines recovered from the site.

Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh told The Hindu that the police suspected that an important Maoist leader was present during the exchange of fire.

“Since the intensity of firing was very heavy and also because a large number of Maoists were present [otherwise, they move around in small groups], we suspect that someone important [leader] was there and they were trying to shield him.”

Mr. Singh, however, preferred not to comment on the question whether the “important leader” could be Maoist Polit Bureau member Kishanji.

In another incident, the rebels triggered five landmine explosions, targeting the security forces near Dharampur early in the day. A police constable suffered a minor injury.

CPI(M) supporter killed

The Maoists also killed a Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporter, and set ablaze a CPI (M) office at Silda and a forest beat office at Etela late on Wednesday.

A group of motorbike-borne assailants arrived at the Andharia market in the Binpur block and shot dead Shibu Mondal, who was chatting with his friends.

Revenge killing?

Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma told The Hindu that the Maoists suspected Mondal of passing on information about their whereabouts to the police. His killing is believed to be in revenge for the detention of three supporters of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee earlier on Wednesday.

Silda party office vandalised

At Silda, the rebels vandalised the CPI (M) local committee office, a stone's throw from the erstwhile Eastern Frontier Rifles camp, where Maoists massacred 24 jawans on February 15.

They also triggered a low intensity explosion inside the office.

As the EFR camp was shifted, the entire stretch between Binpur and Belpahari has been left without a single police outpost or security camp.