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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 13:52 GMT
Nepal takes delivery of US rifles
Nepalese police in Kathmandu
Police and army in Nepal currently use traditional guns

Nepal has taken delivery of 3,000 US rifles as part of moves to modernise its army.

The consignment of M-16 rifles arrived under a bilateral purchase deal.

Maoist graffiti
Maoists have been fighting since 1996
A US embassy official said it was not linked to security assistance which the US has promised Nepal to help fight Maoist rebels.

The newly-acquired rifles will replace the self-loading rifle which the kingdom's army currently uses.

Machine guns

A further 2,000 new rifles are likely to be delivered next month.

Nepal also recently purchased advanced machine-guns from Belgium, the first consignment of which is expected to arrive next week.

The authorities said the purchases of modern weapons are part of a programme to ensure the army is better equipped.

That became more important after troops were deployed against the rebels in late 2001.

Moves to modernise the army have accelerated since then, and a number of countries have pledged assistance to Nepal's campaign.

US aid

The United States has announced military assistance of $12m under a special fund to fight terrorism.

However, the amount is $8m less than the amount that had been initially pledged.

But a spokesman for the American embassy in Kathmandu said Nepal would receive an additional $5m under regular military assistance.

She said the US assistance would cover the procurement of small arms and training with a focus on human rights.

The shipment that arrived Sunday is part of a total figure agreed with Washington under the administration of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

The military and police have previously used more traditional weapons in the conflict with Maoist rebels, who launched their people's war in 1996.

Background to Nepal's Maoist war

Analysis

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Background:

BBC NEPALI SERVICE
See also:

03 Jan 03 | South Asia
05 Dec 02 | South Asia
15 Dec 02 | South Asia
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