Nepal Maoists swap guns for brooms!
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Nepal Maoists swap guns for brooms!

Dozens of communist rebels took up brooms and shovels to sweep the Kathmandu's streets.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 15:44 IST

Dozens of communist rebels took up brooms and shovels to sweep the center of the Nepalese capital on Tuesday as part of a campaign to clean up the city's streets.

The Maoist rebels, who fought government troops for more than a decade before declaring a ceasefire earlier this year, began the cleanup campaign on Monday, starting from the outskirts of Katmandu, and moved toward the city center on Tuesday.

Wearing red head scarves and straps identifying themselves as Maoist rebel cadres, about 50 rebels used bamboo brooms to clean up Thamel, the tourist hub in Kathmandu for thousands of Western tourists who visit Nepal every year.

"We took up arms for a cause, but the political situation has changed and now we are concentrating on reconstruction," said Hisila Yami, a local Maoist leader heading the campaign.

The rebels declared a ceasefire and joined the peace process in April after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations forced King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule and restore Parliament.

While the conflict may have frightened some tourists away, many have come to Nepal since the cease-fire, often to view or trek across the spectacular Himalayan mountains.

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 15:40 IST