Three activists of Jharkhand Party-Naren (JKP-N) were killed by suspected Maoist rebels early on Thursday in this trouble-torn belt of West Midnapore district.
District Magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam told IANS that the bodies were found on the National Highway 9 near Magurai village under Binpur police station.
"All three were workers of JKP-N. One of them was gunned down. The bodies of the other two bore injury marks inflicted with sharp weapons," he said.
Citing police reports, Nigam said Maoists were believed to have carried out the attack.
With the recovery of these three bodies, the number of those killed by the Leftist ultras has risen to nine since the state police and central paramilitary forces began a joint operation June 18 to flush out the Maoists from the Lalgarh belt of West Bengal.
The rebels had also abducted four policemen recently. Two of them remain untraced.
Lalgarh, about 200 km west of Kolkata, has been on the boil since November last year when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two then central ministers -- Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.
Alleging police atrocities after the blast, the Maoists, alongside the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), launched an agitation and turned the area into a virtual "free zone" by torching police camps and offices of the ruling communists and driving out the civil administration.
Maoists are active in areas under 21 police stations in the state's three western districts -- West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.