Kolkata: Seven Forward Bloc members, including a woman leader, were shot dead by suspected Maoist guerrillas in West Bengal`s Purulia district early Friday, police said.
"They were shot dead in Jhalda-I block area near the Ayodhya Hills. State police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have rushed to the area," Purulia Police Superintendent Sunil Chowdhury told over the phone.
"The modus operandi suggests that the Maoists are responsible for the crime. We have initiated an investigation into the matter," Chowdhury added.
Forward Bloc Purulia MP Narahari Mahato said: "A group of 30-40 armed ultra left rebels attacked the houses of our party leaders and workers in Bagbandi village of Jhalda block late Thursday and dragged them out."
"They gunned down seven of them in a nearby forested area between Bagbandi and Begunkhodar early today (Friday)," Mahato added.
"Among the seven victims, Chapala Gorai was the head of Dorda rural body and Tapan Singh Sardar was a leader of Jhalda area. The others were Kinkar Singh, Rajesh Singh and Gopeswar Mahato, Gobardhan Singh and Amu Singh Murmu," the MP said.
He alleged that more than 12 party supporters and leaders have been killed in the district by the Maoists since October. Three party activists, including a leader, were shot dead by the guerrillas in Bagmundi area Oct 4.
The party`s state committee member Naren Chatterjee said: "Forward Bloc will observe Black Day across the state to protest the killing of their party workers while the Left Front has called a 24-hour shutdown in Purulia district Saturday."
"I spoke with the district administration regarding the security of our party workers and leaders," Chatterjee said.
Purulia is one of the three western districts of the state where Maoists are active - the other two being West Midnapore and Bankura.