Three suspected Maoists, including a woman, were killed on Monday near Attapady in Palakkad district during combing operations, police said.

A top police official told PTI that personnel of the Thunderbolt squad retaliated when shots were fired at them.

“The patrolling team was combing the deep forest area in Palakkad district. It was then the Maoists fired at them. As per preliminary reports, three including a woman were killed in the operation,” the official said.

A bomb disposal squad and top police officials have rushed to the spot, the source said.

The special team was combing the area after a tip about Maoist presence in the area.

Locals said they heard multiple gunshots from the forest.

However, Congress MP from Palakkad VK Sreekandan said the chief minister should explain the timing of the incident and what provoked the encounter.

“When the whole state is discussing the Walayar siblings’ death, we would like to know what action on part of those who are dead, provoked the police to fire at them and kill them? We also doubt whether this is a suspected plot like the Wayanad killing,” he said.

A suspected Maoist leader, CP Jaleel, was killed early in March in an exchange of fire with police personnel at a resort in Wayanad which lasted several hours.

Members of Jaleel’s family have alleged that police might have caught him, brought him to the resort and killed him there.

Kerala Thunderbolts is an elite commando force of the Kerala Police under the India Reserve Battalion.