The Paschim Medinipur district police denied here on Tuesday unconfirmed reports that some Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres were feared killed by Maoists during a fierce exchange of fire between the two sides near here, about 30 km from Lalgarh, on Monday.

Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said in Kolkata that there was no report of any death in the armed encounter. Three persons had sustained bullet injuries but their political allegiance is not yet known.

Reacting to media reports that some CPI(M) cadres were killed, Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma told The Hindu that “the damage done by the media was beyond repair.”

Combing operations

Combing operations are under way to arrest those responsible for the violence, he added. The gunfight started around 6.30 p.m. on Monday, and security forces reached the spot at 9 p.m. “Six injured persons have been admitted to hospital,” Mr. Verma said.

An eerie silence prevailed at the scene of the violence. Save a few holes on the wall of the local CPI(M) office that was allegedly attacked by Maoists, there was little trace of the combat.

There is no information of arms and ammunition being stocked at the party office, according to the State administration.

The place appeared deserted except for several contingents of security forces trooping in to carry out combing operations in the adjoining forest and a handful of media persons loitering around.

Though one or two faces could be seen fleeting by the open windows of the office, its doors remained shut, with no one available for comment.

The security personnel on arrival divided themselves into three groups and started combing a three sq. km patch in the adjacent forest to ascertain the route by which the Maoists might have reached the spot.