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Nepal Rebels Launch Attacks, Kill at Least 41 - 2002-02-22

At least 41 people died Friday in a series of attacks staged by Maoist rebels in Nepal. The attacks came as the Nepal's government extended a three-month state of emergency, and the Maoists called a general strike to mark the sixth anniversary of their fight to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy.

Kathmandu's traffic-clogged streets were quiet Friday as most people stayed home to avoid being caught in any violence associated with the two-day strike called by the Maoists.

One person was injured in the city when a homemade bomb exploded but it was in the Maoist's stronghold of western Nepal where they concentrated their efforts, killing more than thirty police in an attack on a remote police post about 260 kilometers west of Kathmandu. Several rebels were also killed in the attack.

Elsewhere at least five people were killed when Maoists threw a petrol bomb onto a bus about 80 kilometers south of Kathmandu.

The attacks took place just hours after Nepal's parliament voted to extend a three-month state of emergency imposed last November. The emergency gives sweeping powers to security forces and allows Nepal's army to be mobilized in the fight against the Maoists, who have sworn to overthrow the world's only Hindu Kingdom and establish a people's republic.

Even though army forces are now fighting the Maoists there are few signs security forces are having much success against the rebels. Earlier this week in the worst case of violence so far in the six-year insurgency the rebels killed 137 police and army troops in western Nepal's Acham district.

Kapil Shrestha is a member of Nepal's Human Rights Commission and a longtime observer of the Maoists. He says the government's seeming inability to control the Maoist violence has many Nepali's worried. "People's biggest apprehension is the inability of the government to provide security. This crisis of governance is one thing that scares people the most. And people are scared of the inhuman ways that these Maoist insurgents operate so people have to look out for their own security they have to fend for themselves," Shrestha said.

Since the attacks earlier this week in western Nepal, government troops say they have killed about 50 rebels bringing to more than 200 the number of people killed in recent days. More than 2,500 people have died since the Maoists began their uprising six years ago.