Nepalese Army pounds mountainous areas

Army helicopters bombed southwest Nepal's mountainous districts in a massive campaign to flush out communist rebels.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 12:48 IST

Army helicopters bombed mountainous districts in southwest Nepal on Thursday in a massive campaign to flush out communist rebels.

A UN official said the country had slipped back into civil war.

In the latest offensive against Maoist insurgents, the Royal Nepalese Army also deployed hundreds of ground troops to Palpa and Nawalparasi districts.

Hundreds of rebels involved in recent attacks on government and civilian targets were believed to be hiding there, said the officials.

No further details were immediately available.

The area has been mired in violence since the guerrillas ended their unilateral cease-fire last month.

On January 30, the rebels attacked the western town of Tansen, destroying government buildings and killing at least 20 security forces.

A week later, 16 government troops died when rebels attacked an army convoy in the area.

On Wednesday, the rebels ambushed an army patrol near the village of Bibeke, about 250 kilometers west of Katmandu, killing three soldiers.

"It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale conflict has now resumed," said Ian Martin, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Katmandu.

"Clashes occurred in highly populated areas, placing the civilian population in grave danger," Martin said.

He informed there was a marked decline in violence during the four-month rebel cease-fire, although both the security forces and the guerrillas committed other types of human rights violations.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 14:58 IST