Nepal's military says its forces have killed at least 64 Maoist rebels in a clash in the country's midwest, a week after troops killed at least 148 rebels in the same area.

Army officials say the fighting occurred late Wednesday in Rukum district, some 400 kilometers west of the capital, Kathmandu.

The officials say the battle erupted after the insurgents attacked a security patrol, prompting the soldiers to retaliate. No casualties were reported on the army side.

The fighting comes as King Gyanendra said in a Nepali New Year's day message Thursday that security across the country had improved since he seized power and imposed a state of emergency February 1.

The king also said he plans to hold municipal elections within the next year, but did not say when parliamentary elections would be held.

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