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Govt-rebel propaganda war hots up in Nepal

With less than a month left for civic polls in the Himalayan kingdom, Maoists having resumed their armed struggle against the state.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 14:13 IST

With less than a month left for the civic polls in Nepal and Maoist guerrillas having resumed their armed struggle against the state, the propaganda war has hotted up in the kingdom.

The latest offensive was launched by the communist guerrillas, who said the defence ministry was spreading false propaganda about the Royal Nepalese Army killing 10 rebels in Tanahu district - billed as the first major loss inflicted on the insurgents since their resumption of armed conflict January 2.

The ministry of defence had said on Thursday that the army had killed 10 guerrillas in two clashes in Chitre and Aambote in Tanahu in southwest Nepal and recovered rifles, bombs and Maoist documents from the sites.

There was no immediate confirmation of the casualties by any independent source. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the areas where the clashes occur between security forces and the rebels often make it impossible to have impartial verifications immediately.

The Maoists said the ministry had spread disinformation to gloss over the losses sustained by the government during a multi-pronged rebel attack in Kailali district in farwestern Nepal on Wednesday.

The guerrillas had attacked several police offices, a bank, the district prison and office of the Election Commission almost simultaneously.

Though no deaths were reported after the attacks, which lasted nearly four hours, some of the buildings were said to have been damaged severely and arms looted from police offices.

With 24 days left before the civic elections - to be held after eight years - the state media has been trying to portray the 58 constituencies as eager to take part in the polls and downright ignoring the mass meetings called by the major political parties to urge boycott of the polls.

The attacks in Dhangadi, the headquarters of Kailali, occurred even as the state media said people in the town were gearing up for elections.

A pall of uncertainty hangs over the polls with the Maoists having warned they would not allow the elections to take place and would take "action" against officials and contestants.

The private media recently reported contestants in areas outside Kathmandu taking shelter in army barracks for safety. However, the reports too could not be confirmed.

First Published: Jan 14, 2006 15:04 IST