Maoists gunned down three police personnel, including the security guard of senior JMM leader Sudam Marandi, after a football match in Orissa's Mayurbhanj district on Tuesday evening.
The former MP, however, escaped unhurt by hiding inside a bush, police said.
About ten armed ultras struck soon after a football tournament at village Bandap under Chandua police station, about 35 km from Baripada, near Orissa-West Bengal border where Marandi was invited as a guest, they said.
The Maoists attacked the security personnel accompanying Marandi when they were leaving the venue of the tournament after distribution of prizes, police said adding the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police Narayan Pradhan and two other securitymen were shot dead by the Maoists.
Hearing the gunshots, those who had gathered to watch the tournament ran helter skelter while Marandi and Mayurbhanj district JMM President Bhadab Hansda were believed to have taken shelter inside a bush near the venue.
Police were sent to the spot to nab the ultras who fled the place soon after the attack.
A cultural programme slated for the night was cancelled in view of the attack by Maoists. After hiding for sometime inside a bush, Marandi safely returned to his house in Baripada. He was brought to his home by a party activist on a motor-cycle.
The two others killed in the attack were identified as Marandi's personal security officer, Gama Hembram, and village guard Gobinda Tudu, police said.
A combing operation has been launched to track down the attackers. Meanwhile, JMM activists blocked the national highway near here in protest against the Maoist attack and additional force was deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident. PTI