Suspected Maoists killed a CPI(M) leader and ransacked the houses of several others late on Tuesday, as violence continued unabated in the Lalgarh region of West Bengals Paschim Medinipur district.

A group of around 100 armed men barged into the house of Ratan Mahato, branch secretary of the partys Bhimpur committee, at Pirrakhuli village, 14 km from Lalgarh, and dragged him out. He was taken to a peoples court, where he was accused of corruption and beaten up, according to the local police.

Doctors at the Midnapore General Hospital declared him brought dead on Wednesday morning.

The same group of suspected Maoists is believed to have raided and torched the houses of four other CPI(M) leaders at Jamdohora village, 12 km from Pirrakhuli, on Tuesday night.

None of the four Sunil Mahato, Deben Mahato, Uttam Mahato, and Nakul Mahato was at home. In another incident, several rounds of teargas shells were burst to disperse a mob that clashed with security personnel when it was prevented from entering Jhargram.

A large contingent of security forces had been posted at Dahijuri, five km from Jhargram, to halt a rally, organised by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), that was scheduled to proceed towards Jhargram in violation of the prohibitory orders imposed in the area under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Meanwhile, the bandh called by the PSBJC in Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura districts in protest against the arrest of two Maoists entered its ninth day on Wednesday. It said it would relax the protest for a three-hour period.