Kolkata: An uneasy calm prevailed in West Bengal`s West Midnapore district on Tuesday as a heavy contingent of Central forces started an intense search in the Shilda region. A group of armed Maoists had killed at least 24 security personnel and left several injured Monday night.
Shops and markets remained closed Tuesday morning and hardly any people were seen on the roads as the joint forces took over the area.
According to sources, the Central forces arrived at the spot late Monday night and cordoned off the entire region. Later they doused the fire at the Shilda police camp, which the Maoists had set ablaze.
"The search operation is now being carried out by the bomb squad using anti-landmine vehicles. We are also carrying out heavy patrolling in and around Shilda area," a police officer said.
The massacre of security personnel was carried out by around 60 Maoists who opened fire at the camp of the joint security forces deployed to combat the left-wing rebels. Many security personnel are still missing after the attack.
According to locals, the Maoists came in vans and motorbikes and ransacked the joint forces` establishment Monday evening and later set it ablaze.
The Maoists also planted landmines at Narayanpurchak area - a place close to Shilda - shouted slogans and scattered pamphlets while escaping after the attack.
According to sources, there were 51 troopers inside the Shilda police camp, comprising 35 Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and 16 State Armed Police (SAP) personnel.
The attack came just six days after Home Minister P Chidambaram held a meeting here with the officials of the four eastern states of Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal to launch an inter-state operation against the left-wing extremists.
"The Maoists took away at least 30 firearms from the camp," a police source said, adding that senior state police officials will reach Shilda later Tuesday to take stock of the situation.