Nepali authorities say at least six Maoist rebels were killed and several soldiers were missing following a fierce gunbattle in eastern Nepal.
Officials say the fighting erupted Wednesday, when rebels ambushed a security patrol in a rural area of Ilam, about 680 kilometers east of Kathmandu.
The rebels say they have killed 20 soldiers. But officials say they could not confirm if the army suffered any casualties.
Earlier this week, the Nepali army had warned that the Maoists could be planning major attacks to mark next month's ninth anniversary of the start of their revolt.
The rebels, who want to establish a communist republic in the world's only Hindu kingdom, last week rejected a government deadline to resume peace talks.
The government is pushing ahead with plans for long-delayed elections later this year.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.