Two Election Commission observers visiting poll-bound West Bengal for an independent assessment on law and order had to return before reaching Nandigram on Wednesday after they heard gunshots.
SP Ashok Biswas said the gunshots were heard when the convoy of the observers -- Bihar Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh and DIG National Crime Records Bureau Zaki Ahmed -- were en route from Khejuri to Shunia near Nandigram.
After hearing the gunshots, the two observers held a discussion with him and decided to return to Kolkata, Biswas said.
Shunia had witnessed clashes between Trinamool Congress and CPI-M for about two months till December end.
While the observers were holding a discussion with SP, Trinamool Congress workers demonstrated before them alleging that armed attacks by CPI-M cadre were a daily affair.
It could not be ascertained immediately whether the observers would return tomorrow.
Earlier at Tamluk, the district headquarters, a group of CPI-M workers claiming to have been driven out of their homes by Trinamool Congress, met the observers and claimed that they were unable to return since November 16, 2008, because of attacks.
Trinamool workers, on the other hand, told them that CPI-M cadres were unleashing terror at various places including Shunia and demanded that camps of armed Marxists be removed.
The observers along with the SP earlier visited Khejuri and spoke with villagers and local leaders of both CPI-M and Trinamool Congress.
They also held a meeting at the Khejuri police station.