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Nepal Army Claims 30 Rebels Dead

August 21, 2002

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Army soldiers battled Maoist rebels at a training camp in an isolated area of Nepal, leaving at least 30 guerrillas and one soldier dead, an army officer said Wednesday.

Another two soldiers were wounded in Tuesday’s gun battle in Thawang, a village nearly 250 miles west of the capital, Katmandu, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

The guerrillas spotted the training camp while on a patrol in the area, but the officer said the guerrillas opened fire first.

There was no way to independently confirm the government claim. The guerrillas, who are in hiding, rarely issue statements about the fighting, which takes place mostly in remote mountainous areas.

The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow Nepal’s constitutional monarchy since 1996.

Fighting intensified following the failure of peace talks between the government and the rebels in October.

King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency in November and ordered the army to help police for the first time.

The government says at least 3,290 rebels, 536 police officers, 658 civilians, 163 army soldiers and nine government workers have been killed in the past eight months.

The government reports high rebel casualties following battles and low army losses.

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