Hours after armed Maoists in Odisha’s Malkangiri district burnt a private bus to cinders, 5 suspected cadres belonging to a splinter group of the CPI (Maoist) were killed in an encounter with security forces in neighbouring Jharkhand.An empty bus returning to its base in Odisha’s Mundaguda village on Monday night was stopped, its driver and conductor thrashed and the vehicle burnt down by a group of Maoists to protest its plying during the annual Protest Week the rebels call against Republic Day every year. This is the second such torching of a vehicle in less than a year. A total of 19 Maoists were killed, 39 arrested and 27 had surrendered in 2018, which Odisha police considers one of its best years in the fight against the underground fighters. Police say that Maoists have been on the back foot in Malkangiri district , ever since a bridge connecting the once remote area became operative last year.The five men killed in Tuesday’s encounter in Jharkhand when they opened fire on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) search team were suspected cadres of the outlawed People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a Maoist splinter group. CRPF Inspector General Sanjay Latkar said that a large cache of arms was found in the possession of the killed ultras.By evening, the police had identified area commander-rank Maoist Prabhu Sahay Bodra, carrying a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, along with two other cadres, Paltan and Bachcha. The injured Maoists, Soma Munda and Praveen Munda, were admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi. The Khunti SP said that the identities of other dead Maoists were being ascertained.