Two People's Committee Against Police Atrocities activists were killed and six others seriously injured in an exchange of fire between security forces and Maoists in West Bengal's West Midnapore district.
Santu Mahato and another unidentified man, both PCPA members, were killed during the one-hour-long gun-battle between security personnel and Naxalites in the jungles near Kalaboni in the district this evening, police said.
The rebels started firing at the combat force personnel, who were returning to Binpur camp after lathicharging PCPA supporters protesting detention of 10 persons in connection with the recovery of a land mine in the area, the police said, adding that in the retaliatory action the duo died and six others got injured.
The injured were rushed to Midnapore Sadar Hospital where their conditions are stated to be serious, they said.
A couple of hours after the shooting incident, Maoists killed two local Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders Khagen Mahato and Gopal Mahato near Jhargram town in the district, they said.
Earlier in the day, bodies of two CPI(M) workers -- Jyotidranath Mahato and Manik Midha -- abducted by Maoists, were found at Lauria village near Manikpara.
The Maoist-backed PCPA also torched the deer park, housing bear, hyena, birds and snakes besides chital deer, in Jhargram.
Claiming responsibility for the gunning down of two local CPI(M) leaders, top Maoist leader Kishenji tonight vowed to give a "befitting reply to the killing of two tribal villagers at the hands of security forces".
"We own responsibility for the killing of CPI(M) leaders Khagen Mahato and Gopal Mahato for their anti-people activities and corruption. But we will give a befitting reply for the deaths of two villagers and injury to many at the hands of security forces, which virtually turned this into a 'bloody Sunday'," Maoist leader K Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji told PTI over phone from an undisclosed location.
He alleged the joint forces opened fire under the pretext of fighting Maoists on a rally of 3,000 tribals in West Midnapore district on Sunday.
Kishenji said while at least nine persons were injured in the firing, many others were still missing.He said the Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia wing of the PCPA would be strengthend for "future activities".