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Nepal Maoists Call for Private School Strike


Private schools in Nepal say Maoist rebels have told them to shut down indefinitely or they could face attacks.

Teachers said the rebels' student faction demanded the country's fee-based schools close starting Thursday. Officials said such a closure could affect 1.5 million students in some 8,500 schools.

The demand comes just after rebels ended an 11-day strike that shut down businesses and restricted travel across the country. The rebels say they are protesting King Gyanendra's seizure of power on February 1.

In recent days, Maoist rebels repeatedly attacked Nepal's army as well as civilians accused of defying the strike. The army says the rebel death toll from a battle last week in western Rukum district has risen to at least 148 after 35 more bodies were found. Officials say some 300 wounded rebels are believed to be hiding nearby.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.