Stepping up their offensive, Maoists shot dead a local Congress leader inside his vehicle and set it ablaze in Lumbatoli village in the district.

Hemant Bage, a youth Congress block president, was on way to his relative's house when a group of rebels intercepted the vehicle and shot him dead, sub-divisional police officer (Simdega) Varun Kumar said on Monday.

Vehicle torched

Mr. Kumar said the ultras then torched the vehicle. The police recovered the half-burnt vehicle as well as Mr. Bage's body.

The rebels left behind posters owning responsibility for the crime, Mr. Kumar said, adding that the police have launched a massive search operation in the area to track them down.

Less than two months ago, Maoists gunned down Gobardhan Mahali, the Congress's Dalbhumgarh block president, in Ghatsila in East Singhbhum district.

Threatened

Former Congress MLA Neil Tirkey was threatened by Maoists on Sunday.

The police on Monday recovered posters from Tamra village cautioning Mr. Tirkey not to speak against Maoists or support Operation Green Hunt.

The rebels have threatened Congress party leaders and workers in Jharkhand, including those of the Palamu district Congress committee, to snap ties with the party or face the consequences.

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