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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 16:13 GMT
Nepal war deaths 'over 7,000'
Bombed bookstores in Kathmandu
Maoist rebellion in Nepal has raged for six years
More than 7,000 people have been killed during six years of Maoist rebellion in Nepal, the authorities say.

Figures released on Thursday said more than 5,000 of those killed were guerrillas themselves, some 4,050 of whom lost their lives following the introduction of troops in the conflict a year ago.

About 1,200 soldiers and policemen, and 800 civilians make up the rest of the dead.

Nepalese soldiers
Troops were unleashed under emergency laws
Correspondents say it is almost impossible to verify casualty figures independently as the rebels never respond to government claims.

Battles are usually fought in remote, inaccessible areas, making it very difficult to confirm what has actually taken place.

And some reports say the Maoists remove the bodies of their dead from the battlefield, suggesting official figures could be incomplete.

Peace talks

The rebels want to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy with a republic.

Both they and Nepal's new Prime Minister, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, have recently offered fresh peace talks - but correspondents say there is little sign of compromise from either side.

No date has been set for dialogue, and their have been fresh clashes reported in recent days.

The bitter conflict, which began in 1996, and has slowly spread across much of the kingdom, has left Nepal's main industry - tourism - in tatters.

Activists say there have been widespread human rights violations by security forces.

Background to Nepal's Maoist war

Analysis

Eyewitness

Background:

BBC NEPALI SERVICE
See also:

28 Oct 02 | South Asia
19 Oct 02 | South Asia
06 Oct 02 | South Asia
25 Sep 02 | South Asia
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