Nepalese forces kill 74 Maoists
Three securitymen were also killed in the gunbattle between army and rebels.
At least 74 Maoists and three security personnel were killed in one of the fiercest gun battles between the Nepalese army and the rebels in two districts of western Nepal, authorities said.
Seventy rebels, including their brigade commander, were killed on Monday night when security forces launched intensified retaliatory attacks using night vision helicopters in one of their strongholds in Ganeshpur area of Bardia district, security sources said.
The incident occurred when a group of 500-600 Maoists attacked the security forces, which reached the area to remove barricades, set up by the rebels on the highway.
The Maoists used sophisticated weapons during the battle. Security forces recovered 70 dead bodies of the rebels wearing combat dress from the area. Dozens of Maoists were also injured in the incident, the army said.
The security forces also lost two of their personnel during the fighting, it said, adding arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site.
The death toll on the Maoists' side might be much higher as the rebels carried away many dead bodies from the site of the clash, it said.
The reported death toll is the highest of any clash since King Gyanendra took over power on February 1 and declared emergency rule.