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Nepalese Rebels Express Surprise After Being Blamed for Deadly Blast

Nepal's Maoist rebels say they are investigating Monday's attack on a crowded bus in rural Nepal that killed at least 36 people and wounded 72 others.

In a statement posted on the Internet, the rebels expressed surprise at being blamed for the attack and said they are conducting a "serious investigation" into the incident in southern Chitwan district, a known rebel stronghold.

The army has blamed the Maoists for planting the landmine that blew up under the bus. Military officials described the blast as one of the worst attacks against civilians since the insurgency began nearly 10 years ago.

Maoist guerrillas have stepped up violence since February first, when King Gyanendra dissolved parliament and assumed absolute power.

The king says the move was necessary to quell the insurgency.

Some information provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.