Even as talks were in progress for the release of two Italians abducted by Maoists in Odisha, the rebels shot dead a Sub-Inspector of police in Malkangiri district today, police said.
Sub-Inspector K C Rath was shot dead by about four ultras when he had gone to a market place at Khairput, about 60 km from Malkangiri, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Anirudh Singh said.
Rath (57), posted in Mudulipada police station which operates from Khairput, was accompanied by a personnel of the Special Operation Group (SOG) force when the assailants suddenly appeared on the scene and fired at him.
The SI, who belonged to Nawarangpur, was immediately taken to the local hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, Inspector-in-charge of Khairput police station Rajesh Chatria Kumar said.
The killers disappeared into the dense forest nearby shouting slogans like "Maoism Zindabad" which triggered panic in the area. Many people were seen running helter skelter after hearing the sound of gunshots, eyewitnesses said.
BSF jawans have rushed to the spot and cordoned off the entire market place, official sources said adding that the body had been sent for post-mortem.
The killing took place at a time when talks were on between Maoist mediators and state government representatives for safe release of two Italians taken hostage by red rebels in Kandhamal district on March 14.