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Maoist Rebels Call For Nationwide Strike In Nepal

Nepal's Maoist rebels have called for an indefinite nationwide strike as part of their campaign against the royalist government.

A statement released Saturday said the strike will begin April 3. Rebel leaders say the strike will be preceded by a blockade of the capital, Kathmandu, on March 14.

King Gyanendra seized absolute power a year ago, saying the move was necessary to curb the Maoist rebellion. Some 13,000 people have died in the insurgency since 1996.

Elections held earlier this month were marred by low voter turnout and allegations by several countries, including India, Japan, Britain and the United States, who all said the vote was flawed.

Seven major opposition parties boycotted the vote, and the election sparked almost daily anti-government demonstrations.

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