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Nepal's Rebels Urge Independent Probe into Human Rights Abuse

Nepal's Maoist rebels have asked for an independent probe into alleged human rights abuses by government troops, who have stepped up their fight against insurgents since King Gyanendra seized power February 1.

A rebel statement issued Wednesday accused government troops of murder, rape, arson and looting. It also claimed that human rights activists were barred from visiting areas where the alleged atrocities took place.

Human rights groups have accused both rebels and the army of widespread human rights abuses, including killings, disappearances and other acts of violence against civilians.

The rebel statement came on the fifth day of an 11-day strike called by Maoists to protest the king's seizure of power.

Maoists are fighting to replace Nepal's monarchy with a communist state. A nine-year-old insurgency has already claimed more than 10,000 lives

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.