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Maoist Rebels Attack a Coca-Cola Plant in Nepal - 2001-11-29

In Nepal, Maoist rebels have attacked a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the capital, Kathmandu. The latest attack comes days after the army launched a crackdown on the rebels, following the declaration of a national emergency by the government.

Authorities say Maoist rebels set off two bombs in the Coca-Cola factory in Kathmandu, early Thursday, before workers reported for duty. The blast damaged some equipment and parts of the building. No casualties were reported.

The army has been deployed to protect the Balaju industrial areas where the factory is located. Six people have been detained in connection with the attack.

The attack by the Maoist rebels is the first in the capital, Kathmandu. The guerrillas have strongholds in remote mountainous areas. They usually target police posts, banks and private industry in rural Nepal.

Nepalese Home Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka says the army campaign to hunt down the rebels is going well. The government says dozens of rebels have been killed in Rolpa and Dang districts since the military mounted air and ground attacks on guerrilla strongholds, Tuesday.

The military was deployed after the rebels broke off peace talks with the government, last week, and mounted a wave of deadly attacks that killed nearly 200 people.

Nepal has asked India for military supplies to help end the revolt. It wants helicopters and night-vision devices, in addition to other equipment.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has assured Nepal he is ready to extend whatever assistance is needed by its landlocked neighbor "in this hour of need." The offer came in a phone conversation between Mr. Vajpayee and Nepalese King Gyanendra.

Both the United States and India have said they support the Nepalese Government in its fight against the Maoist insurgency. The Maoists began their campaign to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establish a socialist republic in 1996.

The renewed violence by the Maoists is being seen as a blow to Nepal's struggling 11-year democracy.