Patna: Voting for the ninth phase of Bihar panchayat polls began on a violent note on Sunday as two polling officials were killed and two critically injured in a Maoist attack, police said.
The officials were killed in a landmine blast triggered by the rebels in Janui, a Maoist-affected district about 160 km from here.
"Maoists targeted a police vehicle in which polling officials were going to conduct polls in a village in Jamui," a police officer said.
Additional Director General of Police Rajwardhan Sharma said that armed security forces, including central paramilitary forces, have been deployed at polling booths to ensure free and fair polling that began at 7 am.
Till date, nearly 3.89 lakh `troublemakers and habitual offenders` have signed bonds promising not to disrupt the panchayat polls in Bihar, police said.
Last month, the state election commission made it clear that if a candidate is attacked or intimidated during polls, his rival will be named in the police report.
The first round of panchayat polls saw a police officer and a woman voter being killed in a rebel attack in Jamui. The second round also saw a man being killed during polls. But the rest of the rounds passed off peacefully, except for sporadic incidents of violence.
The Maoists have issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the elections.
Elections in Bihar were once known for violence and booth capturing. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, 74 people were killed in poll-related violence. About 20 people were killed in the 2004 general elections and 158 during the 2001 panchayat elections.
The 10-phased polls for 2,62,000 panchayat posts will end May 28.