Three youngsters were killed and five injured in a landmine blast in Jharkhand on Sunday as Maoists stepped up violence on the first day of their two-day state-wide bandh call.
The bandh call was given just three days ahead of the second phase of polling in the state on Wednesday.
Suspected Maoists also blasted a railway station, uprooted railway tracks at two places and blew up a school building.
A group of paramilitary forces asked some local youngsters to remove a tree trunk from the road to clear their way at Amjore village in East Singhbhum district, about 145 km south from state capital Ranchi.
As the youngsters, who were returning home after playing a football match, tried to remove the trunk, a landmine exploded killing three of them on the spot. Five others, who were seriously injured, were later taken to a hospital in Jamshedpur, some 130 km south of the state capital.
State police spokesman V.H. Deshmukh said additional forces had been rushed to the area.
Suspected Maoists also blew up the Mahuabuang railway station and rail tracks in Simdega district, about 250 km southwest from the state capital, disrupting operation of trains on the busy Ranchi-Rourkela section of the South-eastern railway for the entire day.
A school building in Palamu district’s Pipra village, about 250 km northwest of Ranchi, was also blasted. The Maoists are demanding that their leader Ashok Mahto either be produced before the media or in a court.
The Maoists allege Mahto was arrested five days ago by the Ranchi police, but not produced before the court. Fourteen assembly constituencies will go to the polls on Wednesday.