Bengal polls: 4 killed as central forces open fire after coming under attack

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(Eds: Adds details) Sitalkuchi (WB), Apr 10 (PTI) Four persons were killed as central forces allegedly opened fire after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles', in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district on Saturday, police said.

The incident took place in Sitalkuchi area when voting was underway, a senior district police officer said.

'As per preliminary reports, four persons were killed as CISF personnel opened fire after coming under attack in a village.

'A scuffle took place, and locals gheraoed them and attempted to snatch their rifles, following which the central forces opened fire. Further details are awaited,' he said.

The TMC claimed that the four deceased persons were its supporters.

When asked whether any action has been taken against the CISF personnel, the officer said, 'It is for the EC to decide. As per our reports, they opened fire in self-defence.' Official sources in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) said the incident took place at Mathabhanga polling booth around 9.40 am.

'A group of people started pelting stones to thwart the voters from casting their ballots and they got into a scuffle with our troops and those from the local police deployed there,' a source said.

The force personnel fired in the air after our quick reaction team (QRT) vehicle was damaged by the mob, sources said.

They added that the personnel later opened fire 'in self-defence and to protect the booth and the polling staff' in which one person was killed while 3-4 others suffered bullet injuries.

Election officials said a report on the incident has been sought from the district officials.

The four bodies were taken to a nearby hospital.

Earlier in the morning, a first-time voter was shot dead by unidentified persons outside a polling booth in the same Sitalkuchi assembly constituency area.

BJP's Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik, who is also contesting the assembly elections from Dinhata constituency, alleged that TMC supporters attacked the booth.

'TMC goons attacked the booth with an intention to loot it. Maybe the central forces opened fire in self- defence,' he said. PTI PNT NES ACD ACD