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UN asks Kathmandu to respect human rights

Clashes between security forces and rebels have escalated in Nepal, with almost daily firefights and human rights violations.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 14:30 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

The United Nations on Thursday called the resumption of fighting in Nepal "a tragedy for the people" and said it would continue pressing both sides in the conflict to respect human rights.

Maoist rebels, who have been fighting for a decade to abolish the monarchy in this Himalayan nation, called off a four-month ceasefire on January 2 after the royal government refused to hold peace talks.

Clashes between security forces and the insurgents have since escalated markedly, with almost daily firefights and human rights violations across the country, said Ian Martin, the representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kathmandu.

"It is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale conflict has now resumed," Martin told reporters.

He added that the latest "clashes occurred in highly populated areas, placing the civilian population in grave danger".

Rights groups have estimated that more than 100 people have been killed in the past month's fighting.

In the latest violence, army helicopters bombed mountainous districts in southwest Nepal in a massive campaign to flush communist rebels from the area.

The Royal Nepalese Army also deployed hundreds of ground troops to Palpa and Nawalparasi districts, about 250 kilometers southwest of Kathmandu, security officials said.

Hundreds of rebels involved in recent attacks on government and civilian targets were believed to be hiding there, said the officials, who asked not to be named for fear of jeopardising the mission.

Martin said the UN body would continue to press the rebels to observe international humanitarian law and respect human rights.

He also called for cooperation from the royal government in fully restoring people's fundamental rights.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, have fought for a decade to establish a communist Nepal.

The insurgency has claimed nearly 13,000 lives.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 14:27 IST