An actress from Jharkhand was shot dead after she allegedly thwarted a highway robbery attempt in West Bengal's Howrah district on Wednesday, police said.

Riya Kumari, a youtuber and actress along with her husband Prakash Kumar, a film producer, and their two-year-old daughter were heading to Kolkata via the National Highway 16 by car, they said.

Kumar stopped near Mahishrekha in Bagnan police station area around 6 am to relieve himself. Soon, a gang of three men attacked him, trying to rob his belongings. When his wife rushed to rescue the husband, they shot her and fled the spot immediately, police said.

The men apparently spoke to the couple in Bengali, which they did not understand. The husband in conversations with journalists did not rule out enimity but said he had no idea why they could be attacked and had assumed the killers to be tourists like him.

Kumar took his wife to the vehicle and drove about 3 km in search of help. When he saw some people along the highway in Kulgachia-Pirtala, he narrated the incident to them.

Locals helped Kumar take his wife to the SCC Medical College and Hospital in Uluberia where doctors declared her brought dead, police said.

Police said they were investigating the incident and also questioning the husband.

"We have spoken to the husband, and since the daughter is too young we may talk to her later as we do not want to cause her more trouble. We will also speak to the locals whom the man approached for help," a police officer said.

Their car has been seized for forensic examination, he said.