A massive search continued for the fourth consecutive day today to trace four policemen kidnapped by Maoists during an encounter with security forces in Lakhisarai district with the Bihar Police saying it had vital clues about where the security-men were being kept.

Inspector-General (Operations) K. S. Dwivedi, told PTI from Lakhisarai that the combined forces of CRPF, SAP, BMP and Special Task Force of the Bihar police were continuing with their search.

“We have specific information about where the securitymen are kept in captivity in the hills covering the districts of Munger, Jamui and Lakhisarai,” Dwivedi said, adding a lot of people were cooperating in the drive against the Maoists.

Despite indication by Bihar government that it might consider holding talks with the ultras for securing release of the policemen, no official response from the ultras reached the state police headquarters, official sources said.

“We may think of holding talks, but with whom at this stage? Should we talk to people in the air? They (Maoists) have not officially approached us as yet on any demand,” DGP Neelmani had said yesterday.

Official sources said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was also monitoring the progress of the operation with the CRPF using helicopters to search for the policemen.

Avinash, a self-proclaimed Maoist spokesman, had in a communication to the chief minister’s official residence in Patna conveyed the deadline of 4 pm yesterday for release of the eight Maoists, failing which, he said, the four policemen would be killed.

The Maoists had kidnapped sub-inspectors Rupesh Kumar and Abhay Prasad Yadav, BMP havildar Ehtesham Khan and BMP ASI Lucas Tete after the encounter.

Six Bihar Military Police personnel, officer-in-charge of Kawaiya police outpost Bhulan Yadav and a policeman were killed in the gunfight with Maoists in the Kajra police station area.

Meanwhile, several political parties and organisations, besides the relatives have appealed to the ultras to ensure unconditional release of the policemen.