Two Indian Reserve Battalion troopers were killed and three others injured when suspected Maoists triggered a landmine blast in the Lalgarh belt of West Bengal's West Midnapore district on Friday. The rebels also fired at the police patrol and the gun-battle lasted an hour before the ultras fled into the jungle, officials said.
"Two troopers died in a landmine explosion at Burisole, close to Pirakata under Lalgarh police station today (Friday)," Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldip Singh told IANS over phone.
West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma said three other IRB troopers were injured, two of them seriously, in the explosion that occurred around 3 p.m. when the joint forces deployed to flush out Maoist ultras were patrolling the area near a jungle.
A senior police officer said there were unconfirmed reports that there was more than one explosion.
The Maoists fired at the patrol after the blast, and the security forces fired in reply. The ultras fled into the jungle after an hour-long gun-battle.
Verma said the two killed troopers were identified as Alok Mondal and Srimanta Banerjee. "They sustained grievous injuries and succumbed on way to the Midnapore district hospital," he said.
The injured troopers have been taken to Midnapore hospital where thetwo seriously wounded have been admitted.
Verma said the mode of the attack indicated the Maoists were behind it. "More investigation is needed to ascertain this. But the way the attack was carried out and considering the fact that the Maoists have a base there, it appears it is their handiwork".
The state government June 18 began a massive security operation with central paramilitary troopers and state armed forces personnel to flush out Maoists from Lalgarh, 200 km west of Kolkata, June 18.
The ultras had virtually created a free zone in the area since Nov 2008 by torching police camps and burning down offices of the state's ruling Communist Party of India - Marxist.