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Nepal Maoists Rebels Kill Over 50 People - 2002-04-12


In Nepal, officials say Maoist rebels have killed more than 50 people, policemen and civilians.

The rebels mounted a deadly wave of simultaneous overnight attacks in the Western Dang district, about 300 kilometers west of the capital, Kathmandu.

Officials said the rebels attacked police posts and the interior security minister's house with bombs and guns. Dozens of police officers were killed in the gun battles, which raged for hours in the remote Satbariya and Lamahi villages.

Many of the policemen killed were members of a special unit set up to combat the rebels.

Officials say the guerrillas also stopped a bus, killed several civilian passengers, and set the bus on fire. They also looted a nearby bank and smashed a power station.

Army reinforcements have been sent to the region, but authorities said their arrival was delayed because rebels blocked roads with logs.

Hundreds of guerrillas were involved in the incidents. The Dang district is a stronghold of the rebels, who operate from the densely forested steep mountains in the area. They control many remote districts in the country.

In the six years since the insurgency began, the rebels have mounted scores of hit-and-run attacks on security posts, killing hundreds of policemen.

The government imposed a state of emergency four months ago, and gave the army sweeping powers to quell the rebellion, after the guerrillas walked out of peace talks last year.

But there have been several rebel attacks in recent months. The government's effort to crush the insurgency was intensified in February, after rebels killed more than 100 policemen and civilians in a series of raids.

Thursday night's attacks are the latest challenge by the Maoists to the government. The violence has hurt the nation's tourist industry, on which the country's economy is heavily dependent. More than 3,000 people have died in the rebellion in the last six years.

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