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India Fears Nepal Violence May Spill Across Border - 2004-09-08


Indian airlines have stepped up security on flights connecting with Nepal after a tip that Maoist rebels are planning to hijack an Indian airplane. Nepal's prime minister begins a visit to New Delhi to ask for help in dealing with the rebellion.

A security alert was issued last week by the Indian Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

Officials have been quoted as saying the security agency received a tip that Maoist rebels, who are fighting to topple the constitutional monarchy in neighboring Nepal, plan to hijack an Indian plane to draw global attention to their violent revolt.

The officials say the airlines have been instructed to pay meticulous attention to security screenings of passengers, baggage, cargo, and catering trolleys. The alert, they say, will last until further notice.

During his five-day visit to New Delhi, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will reportedly seek more help from India in stamping out the deadly communist rebellion in his country. The eight-year-old revolt has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

India has supplied arms, ammunition, helicopters, and trucks to Nepal in the past. The Reuters News Agency reports that Nepal will seek anti-mine trucks from India, because the Maoists have been targeting major highways.

India's foreign ministry spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said the Nepalese leader's talks with Indian officials will be wide ranging.

"This visit would provide an opportunity to comprehensively review, at the highest level, the entire gamut of India-Nepal bilateral relations, including issues relating to trade, water resources, defense and security and border management," he said.

New Delhi wants to see an early end to the rebellion, fearing the violence might spill across the border into regions where Indian separatist rebels are operating.

The porous India-Nepal border is more than 1500 kilometers long, and the Indians are expected to step up patrols on their side.

At present, the two countries have an open border policy under which the peoples of the two nations can cross without a visa.

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