Police on Monday continued the hunt for Maoist rebels who killed four state paramilitary troopers Sunday in West Bengal's West Midnapore district.
"We are combing the nearby jungles. We are conducting intense search operations. We have sent alert messages to all surrounding police stations as also in the neighbouring areas of Jharkhand and Orissa," said Jamboni police station officer-in-charge Loman Hossain.
The incident took lace in the main market of Gidhni, about 8 km from the state's border with Jharkhand and 25 km west of Lalgarh town.
An eyewitness, who has a shop in the market, said: "It happened around 5.45 p.m. I had been away from my shop in the market. Suddenly I saw some sounds. Initially, I thought these were cracker. Then I found people running helter skelter.
"I realised something big was on and took shelter behind a shop. This continued for 15 minutes. Then when everything seemed normal I ventured to the spot and found the four bodies lying," he said.
Hossain said four rebels attacked the troopers of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR), a paramilitary force of the state police, when they were sipping tea at the market.
"There were eight EFR jawans. Four died, four managed to escape," said Hossain.
He denied reports that the rebels were led by a woman, and said all the ultras were men.
The attack came hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrapped up his two-day visit to the district by throwing a challenge to the leftwing ultras.
"We'll defeat Maoist ultras and will chase them out of our state," Bhattacharjee asserted at a public meeting in Debra.
Eight people, including the four troopers, have been killed by the Maoists in the district since Friday night.
Three men - Jairam, Manoranjan and Laxmi Das - were killed by the Maoist guerrillas near the Kushbani forest as they were active members of the Gano Pratirodh Committee (people's resistance group) formed to combat the rebels.
A Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) activist was gunned down at Salboni Saturday night. A former CPI-M legislator Subhas Soren was shot at and injured at Gopiballavpur.
Last month, the ultras had attacked the Sankrail police station in the district, killing two police officers and abducting officer-in-charge Atindranath Dutta. Dutta was released unharmed after two days in captivity.
The state government has launched a massive security operation comprising central paramilitary troopers and crack personnel from the state police in and around the Lalgarh belt since June 18 to flush out the Maoists, who had turned the area into a virtual free zone since last November.
Maoists are active in at least 18 police station areas of three western districts - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia - in the state.