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Nepal: Troops Kill 76 Maoist Rebels

September 23, 2002

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Government soldiers in Nepal’s mountains killed some 76 rebels in a continuing drive to wipe out insurgents who want to topple the constitutional monarchy, an official said Monday.

There was no way to independently confirm the security forces’ report, and the rebels, who operate from remote areas, cannot normally be contacted and rarely comment on government claims.

Human rights groups have expressed concern about the high numbers of rebel casualties reported by the government, fearing some may be civilians caught in the cross fire.

Most of the casualties in Sunday’s fighting were in the Rukum region, 250 miles west of the capital, Katmandu, where 55 rebels and one soldier died, said Shiv Kumar Thapa, spokesman for the Defense Ministry.

In neighboring Rolpa district, another 14 guerrillas were killed, while the remaining seven were killed in different parts of the kingdom.

Thapa said the drive was aimed at identifying and attacking the insurgents’ bases. Some of those killed were instructors at rebel training camps.

In earlier clashes with the army, 39 rebels were killed on Friday and Saturday and another 11 died when explosives they were carrying went off accidentally, officials said.

The rebels have been fighting since 1996 to impose a communist rule based on the tenets of the Chinese revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong. They intensified their attacks after the government lifted a state of emergency last month to allow free campaigning ahead of the parliamentary elections in November.

The Maoist rebels have offered a cease-fire, but the government has rejected the move as a ploy by the insurgents to gain time to regroup.

Emergency rule was declared last year after the rebels abruptly ended peace talks with the government and resumed attacks on military and police. The emergency rule curbed civil liberties and gave security forces sweeping powers to detain people without trial.

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