Rebel raids put Nepal on alert
The attacks, killing 12 cops, were the first near the high-security capital since Maoist rebels ended truce on January 2.india Updated: Jan 15, 2006 13:20 IST
Nepali troops were on high alert on Sunday after attacks around Kathmandu by Maoist rebels killed 12 policemen, an army officer said.
On Saturday, heavily-armed guerrillas stormed a police post at Thankot, 10 km from Kathmandu, tossed a bomb and sprayed bullets from automatic rifles, killing 11 policemen.
In the second attack near the temple town of Bhaktapur, also close to Kathmandu, one policeman was killed and at least eight wounded. Other blasts around the city caused no injuries.
The attacks were the first near the high-security capital, home to 1.5 million people, since Maoist rebels ended their truce on January 2 after the government refused to match it.
The upsurge in violence follows four months of relative calm and comes as King Gyanendra, who dismissed the government and took power last year, prepares to hold civic polls next month which have been opposed by the Maoists and political parties.
At Thankot, witnesses said dozens of rebels in plain clothes arrived in a bus followed by armed guerrillas in another bus. They swiftly carried out the raid and escaped in nearby forests.
Unexploded bombs, and bullets left after the raid littered the police post on a highway linking the hill-ringed capital with the southern plains.
Life in the capital was normal despite the attacks but residents were dazed.
"We could not sleep the whole night because anything could have happened to us as well," school teacher Madhukar Khadga, 50, said as he stood outside the raided post near Bhaktapur.
Khadga was among a group of people gathered at the post, the walls of which had bullet marks. Soldiers stood guard nearby.
"Fear kept us awake," said Khadga, who had helped evacuate some of the eight injured to hospital.
The rebels have been fighting to overthrow the Hindu monarchy and set up a communist state in the Himalayan nation.
At least 12,500 people have died in the nearly decade-old conflict that has also devastated the desperately poor economy sustained by international aid and tourism.
The rebels have vowed to disrupt the February 8 elections for 58 municipal councils ordered by the King. Mainly active in the countryside so far, they have said they will expand their revolt to Kathmandu and other cities.