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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 10:54 GMT
'Children killed' by Nepal rebels
Maoist rebels
Seven thousand people have died in the rebel insurgency
Reports from Nepal say that two school children have been accidentally shot dead by Maoist rebels.

The incident happened in the north-western hill district of Baglung at a school complex where a group of Maoist rebels had assembled.

Correspondents say this is first such incident since the government and the rebels announced a cease-fire ahead of planned peace talks to resolve the seven-year guerrilla insurgency.

Both sides have honoured the cease-fire so far. A date and venue for peace talks has not yet been announced.

Political boycott

On Wednesday Nepal's King Gyanendra said there were encouraging signs for lasting peace.

Earlier this week, Nepal's main political parties boycotted a meeting to discuss the peace process.

King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra - peace signs are 'encouraging'

A cease-fire has been in place in the Himalayan kingdom since last month when the government and the rebels agreed to dialogue.

The two sides are continuing informal contacts, but have not yet set a date or venue for negotiations.

Political parties in Nepal back peace moves but say the planned talks lack transparency.

They, too, have been holding informal talks with the rebels.

Rebel aims

Seven thousand people have died since the Maoists launched an armed struggle in early 1996 - two-thirds of them since peace talks broke down in November 2001.

In the past, the rebels have said their ultimate goal is to replace the monarchy with a communist republic.

But the BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says there have been vague indications that they are softening their position.





LINKS TO MORE SOUTH ASIA STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
Nepal king sees hope for peace
19 Feb 03 |  South Asia
Nepal rebels warn of 'conspiracy'
17 Feb 03 |  South Asia
Nepal's Maoists hope for peace
12 Feb 03 |  South Asia
Q&A: Nepal ceasefire
29 Jan 03 |  South Asia
Nepal's unwinnable war
10 Sep 02 |  South Asia


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