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Nepal crisis: Two killed as rebels attack town

At least two policemen were killed when Maoist rebels raided a major commercial town in west Nepal.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 09:06 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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At least two policemen were killed when Maoist rebels raided a major commercial town in west Nepal on Wednesday.

The rebels set off a string of explosions at government buildings and police posts, police and residents said.

The assault came hours after riot police clashed with pro-democracy protesters across the country on Tuesday, firing tear gas, using water cannons and employing baton charges to break up anti-king demonstrations.

Coordinated attacks began late on Tuesday in Nepalgunj, about 500 km west of the capital, Kathmandu.

Nepalgunj is the biggest town close to the Maoist heartland in west Nepal and a major business centre near the Indian border.

"First there were big explosions and then continuous gunshots," local journalist Krishna Adhikary said by telephone from Nepalgunj. "The fighting went on for nearly two hours."

A police officer said details, such as the number of explosions, were still being awaited.

The Maoists have carried out a series of attacks across Nepal since ending their four-month unilateral ceasefire on January 2, saying the government had provoked them to resume violence by failing to match the truce.

They said they would expand their decade-old anti-monarchy revolt to city centres and stop the February 8 municipal elections called by King Gyanendra, who seized power early last year.

Earlier this month, the guerrillas attacked police posts around Kathmandu, killing 12 policemen.

Nepal has been rocked since last week by street protests for restoration of democracy and against the civic polls, the first step in the king's "road map" to return democracy by 2008.

Political parties are boycotting the polls, calling them a ploy by the isolated monarch to give legitimacy to his regime.

The Maoist revolt, aimed at setting up a communist republic in the Himalayan nation, has killed more than 12,500 people since 1996.

Gyanendra says he was forced to take power to crush the insurgency, an objective he has so far failed to accomplish.