Fresh violence broke out in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Monday as suspected Maoists shot dead a local leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and were engaged in a gun-battle with security forces at four locations in the region.

Victim Pratap Nayek (45), a resident of Singhpur village near Lalgarh, was a former member of the local panchayat.

Motorcycle-borne assailants gunned down Nayek when he was cycling back home from a bus-stand.

District Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma said the needle of suspicion pointed to Maoists.

In the exchange of fire with Maoists during the day, security forces chased a group of naxalites through villages adjoining forest areas.

Police said suspected Maoists fired at security personnel in the early hours of Monday when the latter were carrying out a combing operation at Bakshi village near Dhedua, around 16 km from Lalgarh.

In the gun battle that followed, Sahebram Murmu, (22) was injured and he was admitted to the Midnapore district hospital. While the police claimed that Murmu is a Maoist, the villagers reportedly maintained that he got caught in the crossfire.

The Maoists fled the spot after some time and the security forces chased them through the Harda village near Binpur and later to the Lakshmanpur forest where both parties were engaged in heavy exchange of fire for several hours.