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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 11:20 GMT
Nepal rebels attack Coke plant
Bomb-damaged Coca-Cola plant in Kathmandu
The plant is a symbol of international capitalism
Maoist rebels in Nepal have bombed and badly damaged a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the capital Kathmandu.

No one was inside the factory when the two bombs were detonated and there are no casualties.

Our concrete buildings were shaken as if there was an earthquake

Witness Bikram Bahadur Gurung
It is the first major attack on the capital after a week of heavy violence in which more than 200 people have died.

A state of emergency was declared in Nepal earlier this week and the army has been called out to put down the rebellion.

The army, which is better equipped to fight the rebels than the police, has been carrying out raids on Maoist strongholds in remote areas.

Dawn attack

The attack on the Coca-Cola factory took place early on Thursday morning, when six armed rebels entered the premises and planted the bombs after telling the security guards to leave.

Witnesses said they were woken up by the sound of the blast.

"Our concrete buildings were shaken as if there was an earthquake," said Bikram Bahadur Gurung, who lives nearby.

"The wall of the factory, some windows and the roof of the building have been damaged," police superintendent Sagar Thapalia told Reuters.

The bomb attack... will spread a negative message against Nepal at a time when we are facing a dearth of foreign investment

RB Shrestha, Nepal Chamber of Commerce
The army has cordoned off the area and the police are questioning two suspects.

The president of Nepal's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ravi Bhakta Shrestha, condemned the "anti-American" attack, which he said would hurt his country.

"The bomb attack... will spread a negative message against Nepal at a time when we are facing a dearth of foreign investment in the industrial sector," he said.

Indian aid

On Wednesday, India offered Nepal any help it needed to crush its six-year long Maoist rebellion.

A B Vajpayee
Mr Vajpayee offered help during a call to King Gyanendra
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee made his offer to Nepal in a phone conversation with King Gyanendra.

It followed a request from the Nepalese Government for two helicopters and arms.

The government also said it wanted help from the United States.

The government said it had killed more than 60 rebels since the army was deployed against the rebels for the first time on Tuesday.

Ceasefire breaks

There is no independent confirmation of how the fighting is going and so far the rebels have not commented on it.

The rebels broke a four-month ceasefire when they launched their attacks on Friday.

The government and the rebels held their first substantive peace talks in August, but these stalled two weeks ago over a rebel demand for elections for a constituent assembly to pave the way for a new constitution.

Correspondents say the ending of the ceasefire may indicate that a split has developed between hawks and doves in the rebel ranks.

The Maoists stepped up their attacks after the massacre of the royal family on 1 June, apparently by a family member.

The BBC's Daniel Lak in Kathmandu
"Nepal's Maoist rebellion has moved to the capital city"
See also:

25 Nov 01 | South Asia
Nepal's Maoist insurgency reignites
23 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Maoist threat to Nepal peace
28 Jul 01 | South Asia
Nepal Maoists tell of world plans
14 May 01 | South Asia
Nepal's growing rural revolt
19 Jul 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Nepal
30 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nepal
26 Nov 01 | South Asia
Nepal emergency declared
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