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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Wires from the front line: Nepal

Nik Millard
Nik Millard watched a 24-year-old girl build and lay a pipe bomb

"The civil war is brutal. When they fight they empty magazines and whoever is left standing wins."

Transcripts of telephone calls, text messages and
e-mails between Nik Millard in Nepal and Will Daws, series produer in London, record Nik's remarkable journey.

Some of the place names have been changed in order to protect those involved in this mission.

All times GMT

Monday 15 March

We have met our people. There's been confusion about what we're doing but everyone is now clear. The unit we want to be with is a number of days walk from where we are.

Option is stay put and film Dad's Army (village militia) or set off on foot, and get to the proper guys which is what we've done. Slight issue of permission which they have to clear. We should be with the unit by Thursday but someone has set off to find them.

If all else fails we'll stay with the Dad's Army option.They tend to sit down all day and are based in the village. It's a back up but back up only.

So far satellite phones work.

Wednesday 17 March

Stopped for a bit. Eight hours away is a town of government forces being besieged by Maoist forces. We've said we want to go there. One of our senior political people have gone off till tomorrow to see if we can get access.

We're likely to be here for 24 hours. We're in a village (they won't give us a name) but we're being looked after and eating local food.

The senior guy with us is the governor of this district. He's the one who's gone for permission. There are four Thuraya sat phones in the whole of Nepal so the political leadership never knows where the military is.

They've gone looking for us. Involves runners with bits of paper.

Haven't heard from our guides yet. From the militia option, there are a couple of character options.

There are three levels of militia: 1. Village level which we want to avoid; 2. Best of village militia and 3. District level militia base themselves on Vietcong and are involved in most of the warfare.

Maoist rebels
Shushila Magar (centre) with her friends

One unit sets mines and hides in bush and sets them off when vehicles come past (military ones). Three units lay the mines and 11 support them. The 11 who support them have-home made rifles with home-made bullets.

They detonate mines from 100-1,000 metres away with the flash of a camera (sends a pulse down an electrical line). They are involved in laying siege to the town near us. They are so successful that the military are not using the road.

We can go with the mining team. We'll see them lay the mine. Then it's wait and see.

There may be no vehicles going down the road. The army sends civilians as human shields to go in front of these vehicles so they have to time the explosion.

We've met our character. Her name is Shushila Magar. She's 24 and has been in militia for four years. When she was 15 she was arrested by Nepalese police on suspicion of being a Maoist.

Tortured with sticks and stabbed with bayonettes, while hung up by her ankles from the ceilings, they burnt chillies underneath her so the smoke would burn her eyes. This lasted two days.

She is the fourth of eight children and has one brother and sister in the movement. She hasn't lost any family members to the war. Her objective is to liberate her people and the world.

Tomorrow at 0600 we will film her training then get her walking to the mine team.

She hasn't killed anyone but is prepared to if necessary. She says it would give her a lot of pain to kill a fellow Nepali but would if duty required. She's the most experienced of all the women in the unit.

Saturday 20 March

Things going well. Filmed a lot with her. Sit down interview tomorrow. This is her first day on the mine job so she won't have seen it herself.

We've had two good days filming with her. Morning sun with her doing training. One-to-one rifle training. Today we went out and left the village for the ambush base. There was a big parade in the village where everyone was covered in a pink dye (including us).

She was asked to shoot her rifle to start the procession and it failed to fire (it is home-made). I filmed some lessons of laying booby traps and she pulled the trip wire to set off the explosion.

Monday 22 March

We are fine. As predicted things didn't go exactly to plan!

0400 she woke up and wrote in her diary (about a fallen comrade.)
0006-0800 Basic training - jogging through the mountains and weapon training.
0800-1000 Built the pipe bomb.
1000-1200 Washing with the other women who have grenades. Nice stuff with her instructor explaining what happened to his arm.
1200:1400 Lunch (chat about food) and then slept.
1400-1600 Off on patrol. She sat on a hill top with her village below and talked about that.
1600-1800 They laid the mine. Nice interview about killing.
1800-2000 Waiting by mine.
2000-2200 Celebration and final thoughts over diary.

Nik Millard was accompanied by Vivek Raj

One Day of War was broadcast in the UK on Thursday, 27 May, 2004 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

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