Bhubaneswar, Aug 23: Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda Sarawaswti and four others were killed when a group of armed men attacked his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district of Odisha on Saturday night.
A letter with a threat to eliminate the Swami was received at the ashram at Jalespata under Tumudibanda Block of the tribal-dominated backward district on Friday.
The attack took place around 9 pm and all the five persons died on the spot, according to VHP sources. The victims included a woman Sanyasin.
While confirming the attack, police sources said the attackers used automatic weapons and bombs. They were suspected to be Maoists, source added.
While the police and administration officials had reached the spot, senior officials from other districts had rushed to the region to take control over the situation.
Additional police forces were being mobilised for deployment in different parts of Kandhamal that has a sizeable number of Christian population.
Superintendents of Police in other districts of the state also been alerted, according to the police.
The district had experienced communal violence in December last year. Several persons were killed and hundred hundreds of houses were burnt during the violence that continued for several days.
The communal violence had started following an attack on the Swami a day before Christmas.