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Overnight clashes kill 20 in Nepal: Army

Seventeen policemen and 3 soldiers were killed in bloody overnight clashes with Maoists in western Nepal.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 14:23 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Seventeen policemen and three soldiers were killed in bloody overnight clashes with Maoist rebels in western Nepal while 143 policemen are missing, a senior army official said on Wednesday.

"After the fighting finished, we found (the bodies of) three army personnel and 17 police officers," the official said.

The battle came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of King Gyanendra's takeover of complete power last February 1.

Around 1,000 Maoists attacked at least five targets in Palpa district 400 kilometres west of Kathmandu, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The attacks began near midnight on Tuesday and lasted until dawn on Wednesday, he said.

The official added that of the 230 police officers on duty in Palpa overnight, 143 were still missing.

"They may have been abducted, or maybe they are still hiding and will make contact with authorities later," the official said.

No bodies of Maoist rebels had been recovered but the army was still searching the area.

"In view of the night-long fight, we believe that there could be heavy losses on the Maoist side," the army official said.

The Maoists have been fighting a "people's war" for a decade which has cost more than 12,000 lives.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 14:23 IST