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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 14:56 GMT
'Landmine use rising' in Nepal
By Navin Singh Khadka
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu

Nepalese soldiers
Both the army and rebels use imported mines
Troops and Maoist rebels are increasingly using landmines in the conflict in Nepal, campaigners say.

Those most at risk are children, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in a report released on Wednesday.

The number of civilian casualties from mines planted by both sides is rising as a result, they say.

More than 8,000 people have died in violence in Nepal since the rebels took up arms in 1996 - six policemen were the latest victims, officials say.

'Hundreds of deaths'

The Nepal branch of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines says the organisation has recorded around 500 deaths caused by landmines in the past 33 months.

More than 100 of the victims were civilians and a quarter of them children.

Rebel fighters
Thousands have died since the rebels took up arms in 1996

Of some 900 wounded, nearly one third were civilians.

The group's co-ordinator in Nepal, Purna Shova Chitrakar, said the army had planted more than 10,000 landmines in different parts of the country.

She said Maoist rebels frequently use improvised devices - but she could not say how many they have used.

Nepal is not a signatory to the 1997 international Ottawa Treaty that banned landmines.

The Nepal branch of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines says that the rebels are increasingly using both factory and homemade mines and explosive devices against security personnel.

A roadside bomb they planted in Makwanpu district last month killed Brigadier General Sagar Bahadur Pande, the highest army official to be killed by the rebels.

An army spokesman said mines were the only defence from the rebels for soldiers in their barracks and camps.

He said the army used anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines made in China, India and Russia.

Security officials said most of the explosives used by the rebels are homemade while the factory-made ones they use come from India.

In the latest reports of fighting, officials say six policemen were killed on Tuesday night in 600 kilometres (375 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu, Reuters news agency reports.

It is not clear if the Maoists suffered any casualties.


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