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Nepal Maoists abduct 11 men despite truce offer

The unarmed soldiers were taken captive from Ramdittha village, about 500 kilometers east of capital Kathmandu.
By Associated Press | None, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON APR 29, 2006 01:35 PM IST

Nepal's communist rebels abducted 11 soldiers as they headed home from vacation, despite announcing a three-month unilateral ceasefire, an army official said on Saturday.

The unarmed soldiers were taken captive on Thursday from Ramdittha village, about 500 kilometers east of Kathmandu, according to Indresh Dahal, a spokesman for the Royal Nepalese Army.

The abduction came just hours after the rebels declared a three-month cease-fire to give the reinstated Parliament a chance to return peace to the Himalayan country following weeks of often violent protests against the King's royal dictatorship.

The condition of the abducted soldiers is unknown and the army is combing the mountainous area in search of them, a statement from army headquarters in Kathmandu said.

The National Human Rights Commission issued a statement on Saturday urging the safe and unconditional release of the unarmed men.

On Thursday, the Maoist's elusive leader, Prachanda, announced his fighters would not launch any attacks during the three-month period.

The ceasefire announcement followed a near-three-week campaign of protests by a coalition of Nepal's seven main political parties that forced King Gyanendra to give up the power he seized last year and reinstate Parliament.

The rebels had backed the campaign and expressed willingness to talk peace with the new government, which resumed its political powers on Friday.

The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began their violent campaign to replace the monarchy with a communist state in 1996. The insurgency has left more than 13,000 dead.

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