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27 Killed in Nepal Maoist Violence - 2003-10-13

In Nepal, officials say 27 people have been killed in an upsurge of violence by Maoist guerrillas.

Officials in Nepal say the rebels' overnight attack targeted a police training center in Dang district, about 450 kilometers west of the capital Kathmandu.

They say hundreds of Maoist guerrillas surrounded the police camp late Sunday, attacking it with guns and bombs. The battle continued for more than seven hours until reinforcements were sent by helicopter.

Officials say both rebels and policemen were killed in the clash. Some of the security personnel died in the fighting, but several were killed when their truck went over a landmine as they chased the guerrillas.

Several Maoists have been arrested in the area.

Saturday, the rebels attacked a police post in the neighboring Banke district. At least 40 rebels and four policemen were killed in that clash.

Independent confirmation of the fighting or the casualties is difficult. The guerrillas often accuse security forces of exaggerating claims of rebel losses, while underplaying their own setbacks.

Both the recent clashes have taken place in remote, rural areas where Maoist rebels control vast stretches of the countryside.

The violence erupted after the end of a temporary nine-day truce declared by the rebels to coincide with the country's main Dashain Hindu festival.

The rebels have been fighting since 1996 to establish a communist republic in the impoverished country. More than 8,000 people have been killed.

The Maoists signed a cease-fire with the government earlier in the year, but walked out of peace talks seven months later, after the government said it was not prepared to make any compromises on the country's multi-party democracy.