Authorities in western Nepal say Maoist rebels have raided a major commercial town, setting off a string of attacks that left at least eight people dead.

Local authorities say four Maoists, two policemen, one soldier and one civilian died in the coordinated attacks late Tuesday in Nepalgunj, a business center near the Indian border.

Witnesses say the rebels hurled grenades on several government buildings, including police posts, then fired automatic weapons.

Officials say security forces countered the attacks and repelled the insurgents.

Maoist rebels have carried out a series of attacks across Nepal since ending their four-month, unilateral cease-fire on January 2.

They have been fighting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and replace it with a communist state since 1996. At least 12,000 people have died in the fighting.

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