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US Condemns Maoist Rebel Violence in Nepal - 2004-08-18

The United States Wednesday condemned violence and threats by Maoist rebels in Nepal, who bombed a hotel in Kathmandu earlier this week and have declared a blockade of the capital.

The State Department says the United States "strongly condemns" the latest actions by the Maoists, whose tactics against the country's infrastructure it says only harm innocent Nepalese and the country's fragile economy.

The U.S. condemnation of what were termed "reprehensible" actions by the Maoists, the Communist Party of Nepal, followed a bomb attack Monday against the landmark Soaltee Hotel in Kathmandu, and the declaration of a blockade of the capital by the rebels on Wednesday.

There were no reported casualties in the hotel attack, in which a bomb was tossed over a wall onto the grounds of the luxury facility to back up a rebel demand that it and other major businesses shut down. And news reports from Nepal said there had been no barricades erected or other overt efforts to try to enforce the blockade.

But the actions have prompted transport companies to pull their trucks off the roads leading to the capital and have sparked concerns that supplies of food and fuel could run out in a few days.

In a statement here, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the Maoist actions undermine Nepal's economic, political and social development and "demonstrate a clear disregard" for the well-being of the Nepalese people.

"We, for our part, firmly reject their practice of intimidation, terror and threats of violence against civilians. We are working with the government of Nepal to see that grievances of Nepalese are resolved through peaceful, political means," he said.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the rebels, who say they are inspired by China's late revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, launched their drive in 1996 to replace Nepal's monarchy with a communist state. A cease-fire in the conflict broke down last August.

The Bush administration has provided some security assistance to the Nepalese armed forces, and last October it designated the Communist Party of Nepal a terrorist organization, banning any U.S. business dealings with it, and barring its members from visiting the United States.

At the same time, the United States has pressed for a restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal, urging King Gyanendra, who dissolved parliament in 2002, and leaders of the country's political parties to set aside differences and work together.

It has also pressed the government and military to improve human rights conditions in order to earn the trust of the Nepalese people.