%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Nepalese troops raided a rebel base in the east of the country Saturday, killing 15 guerrillas, the defense ministry said.

One soldier was wounded and two civilians suffered injuries when they were caught in the crossfire, said ministry spokesman Bhupendra Poudel.

The rebel camp was located near Shailejguswor village in Dolkha district, about 75 miles east of the capital, Katmandu. The injured were flown to the army hospital in Katmandu for treatment.

State television broadcast pictures of the rebels killed in the attack.

Clashes between government forces and rebels have intensified in recent months, with the army joining police in a campaign to root out the fighters from strongholds in remote mountainous areas.

More than 4,000 people have been killed since 1996, when the rebels began fighting government forces in a bid to abolish Nepal's constitutional monarchy. The rebels draw their inspiration from the late Chinese revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong.

Nepal's government on Sunday rejected the latest offer by the rebels to resume peace talks after six years of civil war. Devendra Raj Kadel, the junior interior minister, said the government would not hold peace talks unless the Maoists surrendered their arms and renounced violence.

Kadel was responding to a call Thursday by elusive rebel leader Prachanda, who again sought peace talks for ``a positive political solution to the present crisis.''