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Nepal Colleges Close Over Rebel Fears

December 9, 2002

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Many private schools and colleges in the capital shut down Monday under pressure from the student wing of Nepal’s communist rebel movement.

Students in Katmandu had called for the closure to protest government arrests of rebels, and schools complied because they feared rebel attacks.

About 100 government schools remained open in Katmandu, but few students, teachers and administrative staff attended.

The private schools were closed for one week, said Rajesh Khadka, a spokesman for the Private and Boarding Schools Organization of Nepal.

The government tried to avoid the strike last week by accepting the rebel demand that it drop lessons in ancient Sanskrit. Sanskrit is mostly used in Hindu religious scripts and rituals but is rarely used in Nepal, where the official language is Nepali.

On Saturday, student rebel leader Devendra Parajuli called the government response inadequate, and demanded the lifting of a ban on the rebel group and the release of all rebels in prison.

The government refused.

``We have no intentions of doing so unless they cease their violent behavior and show that they are sincere about resolving the issue through talks,″ Education Minister Devi Ojha said Monday.

The government has blamed the guerrillas for a series of recent attacks on schools and colleges in Katmandu.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since the rebels launched a violent campaign in 1996 to topple the monarchy. They draw inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

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