More than a dozen private radio stations in Nepal have defied a ban on news broadcasting imposed by King Gyanendra, despite warnings that violators will face punishment.

An official with the Movement to Save Independent Radio, an alliance of private radio stations fighting the ban, says the broadcasts Tuesday night were the first since the king introduced the ban on February 1.

The restrictions on media include press censorship and limits on independent reporting. Police also arrested dozens of journalists in the immediate aftermath of the king's seizure of absolute power, although many have since been released.

The government argues the measures are needed to quell the violent communist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since 1996.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.