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Maoist Rebels Killed in Massive Nepalese Operation - 2002-02-25

Nepal's army says 76 Maoist rebels have been killed in a massive operation.

Defense ministry officials say most of the rebels were killed during weekend fighting in Kalikot district, about 360-kilometers west of Kathmandu. Others were killed in a series of separate clashes.

Military officials say the rebels had been involved in a massive attack that targeted soldiers and policemen just more than a week ago. They say arms, homemade bombs, and communication equipment were recovered from rebel forest hideouts.

Nepal has stepped up its offensive against the communist rebels in the past week. The government has also renewed a state of emergency that was imposed in November, after rebels broke off peace talks and resumed fighting government forces.

More than 350 rebels, security force personnel and civilians have died in violence in Nepal in the past two weeks.

The rebels have been fighting since 1996 to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establish a communist republic.