Monday, Feb. 18, 2002 at 6:20 PM
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Nepalese maoists have staged a a daring attack on Nepalese authorities and continue to build people's war
Maoist Rebel Raids Kill at Least 127 in Nepal
Sun Feb 17,11:04 AM ET
By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - At least 127 people, mainly policemen and soldiers, were killed in weekend raids by Maoist guerrillas on government installations in Nepal, dealing a severe blow to the Himalayan kingdom's efforts to crush the bloody communist rebellionIn one raid alone more than 100 people were killed in the town of Mangalsen in Achham district, 375 miles west of Kathmandu, officials said on Sunday. An unspecified number of rebels were also killed.
"It is a town on fire," said Umid Bagchand, a local radio reporter, adding that residents had said the rebels used rocket bombs to set the buildings on fire.
The weekend attacks were the deadliest ever by the rebels since their struggle to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy began six years ago.
Interior Ministry spokesman Gopendra Bahadur Pandey told Reuters that at least 49 policemen and four others, including a top bureaucrat, were killed late on Saturday when the rebels, said to number 2,000, attacked government offices and police posts in Mangalsen.
A total of 48 army soldiers were also killed in the attack, Defense Ministry spokesman Bhola Silwal told Reuters separately.
A defense ministry statement said that the rebels first set fire to the district headquarters building and then used sophisticated weapons looted from the military in an earlier raid.
A top government official, who asked not to be identified, said 22 policemen died in a separate rebel strike on the airport at Sanphe Bagar, 16 miles from Mangalsen.
Four police officers were also killed late on Saturday in an attack on a police post at Lalbandi in Sarlahi district, about 190 miles east of Kathmandu, Pandey said.
REBEL CASUALTIES UNKNOWN
While casualties among the rebels were not immediately known, the defense ministry statement said the rebel side may have also suffered heavy casualties as residents in the area saw them carry away their dead and wounded.
But the weekend attacks are a major setback for Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's government which has been claiming an upper hand in the battle since imposing a state of emergency and calling out the military last November.
State radio said Deuba had convened an emergency session of the cabinet to review the security situation.
Deuba has been criticized from within his ruling Nepali Congress party for his handling of the conflict and he is scheduled to table a motion in parliament on Monday urging for an extension of the state of emergency by another three months.
Officials said the government had rushed reinforcements to the district by helicopter and troops had formed a ring around the area and were conducting massive search operations to locate the rebels.
The latest attacks take the death toll since November to about 700 people, most of them rebels. Nearly 2,500 people have been killed in the six-year-old conflict.
Nepal, home of the world's highest peak Mount Everest (news - web sites), has been through a turbulent year with the murder of popular monarch, King Birendra, and most other royal family members last June by the crown prince who later killed himself.
The rebellion has ruined Nepal's impoverished economy, slowed development projects, sapped business confidence and hit tourism, the mainstay of the economy.
The landlocked nation of 23 million people, which is tucked away in the Himalayan mountains between Asian giants China and India, is about the same size as the U.S. state of Florida.
Original: nepalese rev continues