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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Hundreds of Communist rebels attacked a police station in a remote mountainous village on Sunday, killing at least 40 policemen and wounding 19 others, a government minister said.
There were 70 officers stationed at the post in Bhiman village, about 100 miles southeast of the capital Katmandu, and the remaining 11 policemen were believed to be hiding in the nearby jungle, said deputy home minister Devendra Raj Kadel.
``There were at least 40 policemen killed in the attack and we have reports that another 19 were injured,″ Kadel told The Associated Press.
Hundreds of rebels took part in the attack just after midnight Saturday, a police official said on condition of anonymity. Police sent reinforcements from their district headquarters just 12 miles away but the backup forces were unable to reach the station before morning because rebels were blocking roads in the area, the official said.
The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow Nepal’s constitutional monarchy since 1996. The rebels say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong.
By the government’s count, nearly 5,000 people have been killed, including 3,290 rebels.
The government blames the rebels for a series of recent explosions in the capital Katmandu that have killed at least one soldier.
The attacks prompted Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to cut short a trip abroad last week and return home Tuesday.
Fighting intensified following the failure of peace talks between the government and the rebels in October. The following month, the constitutional monarch, King Gyanendra, imposed emergency rule.
The state of emergency gave security forces sweeping powers to detain people without trial and curbed civil liberties. It also allowed the army to help police for the first time in fighting the rebels.
It was only lifted last month after opposition politicians expressed concerns it could hinder parliamentary elections in November.