Kolkata: A joint forces trooper and a Maoist rebel were killed in a gunfight in West Bengal`s West Midnapore district early Sunday, police said.
The police claimed to have recovered the body of the Maoist cadre, who was gunned down during the fierce eight-and-a-half hour clash with the Left-wing ultras near Jitushole forest in Ghrita village under Jhargram sub-division.
Police also claimed that a few more Maoists rebels were injured in the gunfight, but the Maoists were able to flee with their injured comrades.
The trooper - Ektadul Islam, 26, - a constable in the fourth battalion of the state police`s Specially Trained Armed Company (STRACO) deployed in the area to flush out the rebels, sustained a bullet injury in the shootout and succumbed to his injuries on way to the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
He was a resident of Manikchak in north Bengal`s Malda district.
Superintendent of Police (Jhargram) Praveen Tripathi said: "Acting on a tip off that a group of Maoists have assembled in the area, a large team of joint forces cordoned off the stretch and conducted raids."
"It was around 3.30 am when the Maoists cadres first fired three-four rounds at the security men. Soon, the jawans also retaliated," Tripathi said.
"The gunfight continued till 12.00 noon, resulting in the death of one STRACO constable and three-four Maoists cadres, though we have been able to recover the body of one along with a single barrel gun," said Tripathi.
Operations have started in the area to find bodies of the Maoists and arms and ammunition they could have left in the forest, said Tripathi.
Meanwhile, two other troopers of the joint forces were reported to be injured in the gunfight and have been admitted at Jhargram hospital.
Tripathy, however, said: "I have no such information any of our men being injured."
A senior police officer said that around 40-50 rebels divided into a few groups attacked the security men from different corners of the forest. Around 150 rounds of bullets were fired by the security forces.
Sunday`s gunfight comes 11 days after the June 16 clash between Maoists and the joint forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and state police in West Midnapore district.
Eight Left-wing rebels, including three women, were killed in the gunfight at Ranjha forest, about 20 km from the Binpur block headquarters Lalgarh.
The gunfight in Ranjha forest has been touted as one of the biggest successes of the joint forces deployed in the Maoist bastion since June last year to flush out guerrillas, who had set up a strong base in and around the Lalgarh belt, about 200 km west of Kolkata.
Meanwhile, a suspected Maoist rebel - Hajari Hemram - was arrested from Purulia district.
Police claimed Hajari, a squad member of Dalma range accused in several cases, was arrested from a haat (village market) in Urma village in the Balarampur area.
Later, he was presented before the Purulia court and remanded to nine days` police custody, said Superintendent of Police Rajesh Yadav.
Apart from West Midnapore, Maoists are also active in Purulia and Bankura districts.