32 people die in fresh Maoist attack in Nepal
At least 32 people were killed in fresh violence in Nepal on Tuesday as Maoists attacked two key cities in the east and security forces retaliated in central Nepal, providing a bloody sequel to a battle that left 13 soldiers dead.
Eight security personnel were killed in Birtamod, a key business town in Jhapa district in eastern Nepal, as the rebels attacked police and traffic police posts around 7 am, within 48 hours of calling off a blockade that had paralysed transport and industry for six-days.
The bodies of three Maoists were also found after they apparently tried to escape from prison, independent television channel Nepal1 reported.
According to other news agencies, the rebels also attacked two banks in the district. Panic reigned in Jhapa with shops and markets remaining closed.
A traffic policeman was killed as the rebels attacked a security post in Bhanu Chowk in Dharan district, near the Indian border, on early Tuesday morning.
The Royal Nepalese Army said it had inflicted huge losses on the rebels and foiled their plan to attack central Nepal.
The bodies of 20 Maoists were recovered from Dhading district, west of Kathmandu, after the army was tipped off about an ongoing guerrilla meeting in the district and launched a pre-emptive strike, the army headquartered in Kathmandu said.
In the violence on Monday when Maoists attacked a security team in Kavre in central Nepal, killing 13 soldiers while losing at least one of their men. The security team had been sent to fix the water supply lines disconnected by the guerrillas.
Two civilians were also killed in Morang district in eastern Nepal when an improvised explosive device planted by the rebels on a bridge went off on Monday.
The new upsurge in violence comes as Nepal's major opposition parties defied pressure by the government and the US to break off their pact with the guerrillas.
The parties this week said they would enforce a four-day nationwide closure from April 6 and Maoist supremo Prachanda assured the alliance of his party's support.
Opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala ruled out talks with King Gyanendra, who seized absolute power through a coup last year, unless the monarch stepped down.
The Maoists began their armed uprising a decade ago with the target of overthrowing monarchy and establishing a communist republic.
However, in the course of the insurgency, which has killed over 13,000 people, the outlaws have now compromised on a competitive multi-party system with an election for a new constitution, with the electorate deciding whether to retain the monarchy.