Security forces on Wednesday carried out massive combing operations in the forests of Dumka and Pakur, officially declared as Maoist-hit districts in Jharkhand, a day after a top police officer and five policemen were gunned down by the ultras but made no headway in tracking them down.

“The security-men have launched an operation to take strong action against the extremists,” Anand Shankar, the adviser to Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed, said.

“If necessary, assistance will be sought from the Centre,” Shankar, who is in-charge of the state Home department under President’s rule, told reporters here.

Tuesday’s Maoist ambush on a police convoy near Kathikund in Dumka district bordering Pakur, about 400 km from here, would be investigated, he added.

Terming the killing of Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar and other policemen as a cowardly act, the Governor said a strong response would be given to the Maoists.

The sacrifice of the security-men would not be frittered away and the killers would be caught and brought to justice, he said.

He said the ambush would not lessen the morale of policemen and they would fight with renewed vigour.

After laying a wreath on the body of the slain SP at the Jharkhand Armed Police premises at Doranda here, DGP Rajeev Kumar told reporters that a state-wide operation would be launched against the Maoists.

Balihar was the second SP to fall victim to the ultras.

On October 4, 2000, the ultras of the erstwhile Peoples War, which merged with CPI (Maoist), had killed Lohardaga SP Ajay Kumar Singh in undivided Bihar. Lohardaga later became part of Jharkhand.

The Maoists had also killed several policemen, civilians and political leaders like CPI (ML—Liberation) MLA Mahendra Prasad Singh, JD(U) MLA Ramesh Singh Munda and JMM MP Sunil Mahato in the last 12 years.