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US Denounces Forced Recruitment by Nepal's Maoists


The United States has denounced the continued forced recruitment by Nepal's Maoist rebels.

In a statement, U.S. embassy officials in Kathmandu Monday urged the rebels to immediately end the practice.

Local human rights groups say at least 2,500 people have been forced into the Maoist army in recent weeks, including many children.

The rebels have denied stepping up recruitment.

The Nepalese government and the rebels are expected to sign a peace deal Tuesday ending a decade of civil war.

If signed, the agreement would integrate the Maoists into a transitional government by the beginning of next month.

The deal also calls for government forces and rebel fighters to place their weapons under U.N. supervision.

The rebels have been fighting to topple Nepal's monarchy since 1996. They declared a ceasefire in April after King Gyanendra gave up absolute power following mass protests.

Prior attempts to integrate the rebels into an interim government failed because the ruling seven-party alliance insisted they turn in their weapons first.

The 10-year rebellion has killed about 13,000 people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.