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The BBC's David Cass
"Nepal's police are notoriously ill equipped"
 real 56k

Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Nepal rebels step up attacks
Nepalese police
Rebels often target the police force
Maoist rebels in Nepal have vowed to continue their fight against the authorities, after announcing that they were responsible for a series of attacks on police stations in western Nepal, in which nearly 40 policemen were killed.

The chairman of the underground Maoist communist party, Prachanda, said in a statement sent to the BBC that the government of Prime Minister Giriji Prasad Koirala was repressive and unpatriotic.

He also said the attacks were the reflection of what he described as popular revolt against the government and he called for a political solution to the problem.

Mr Pachanda said that any political resolution was impossible without recognising the Maoist movement as a popular movement.

'Barbaric acts'

The BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Sushil Sharma, says Mr Prachanda did not say anything about the prospects of immediate peace talks, but he called upon other political forces to seek a resolution to the present problem, by uniting against the government.

Several leaders of the governing Nepali Congress have condemned the killings of policemen, saying they were "barbaric acts".

King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra: Expected to get tough with Maoist rebels
The co-ordinated attacks, in remote villages, are the latest in the upsurge in violence which has followed the massacre last month of most of the royal family in the royal palace in Kathmandu.

In one incident, a large group of rebels attacked a police checkpoint in Lamjung district 190km (120 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu.

A local official was quoted as saying that in the ensuing two-hour gun battle 22 policemen were killed.

In another incident, at least nine officers died after rebels overran their police station in Nuwukot district, 90km (56 miles) west of Kathmandu.

The attacks came on the birthday of the new king, Gyanendra, who is viewed as less liberal than his late brother.

The rebels have publicly criticised the findings of the inquiry into the palace massacre - which quoted numerous witnesses as saying that Crown Prince Dipendra had carried out the killings before shooting himself - as a whitewash.

Rebel demands

The Maoists insist the killings were the result of a wider national and international conspiracy.

Commentators say this is an attempt to capitalise on divided Nepalese public opinion as to who was responsible for the murders.

The rebels have denounced the new King Gyanendra as a "puppet of neighbouring India and America's CIA".

Maoist graffiti in Nepal
The rebels are fighting for a "people's republic"
The increase in Maoist rebel attacks also reflects their opposition to tough new security laws aimed at anyone the government perceives to be a threat to national security.

The rebels are fighting to establish a "people's republic" in Nepal and are demanding land reform, an end to close ties with India, no more foreign aid and no role for the monarchy.

They regularly target Nepal's badly trained and poorly paid police force in an attempt to further undermine already low morale.

More than 1,700 people have been killed since the rebels began struggling to replace the constitutional monarchy with a communist republic.

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14 May 01 | South Asia
Nepal's growing rural revolt
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