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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Nepal rebels slam US terror label
By Sushil Sharma
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu

Nepalese Maoist rebels have condemned an American move to brand them as terrorists.

Maoist rebels in Nepal
The Maoist say they are committed to peace

A senior rebel leader said the move could affect the current peace process aimed at resolving the long-running insurgency.

The remarks follow a decision by the US State Department two days ago to list the rebel group as a terrorist organisation.

Rebel leaders have also threatened to resume violence, accusing the Nepalese Government of being insincere.

'Unjustified'

Rebel negotiator in the peace talks that started earlier this week, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, said the Maoists were opposed to terrorism and they were a serious political force.

Mr Mahara told the BBC the latest US move was unjustified.

Crowds at the rally in Kathmandu
There has been continued support for the Maoists

The rebels earlier accused a number of foreign powers, including the US, of conspiring against peace moves.

Addressing a public rally in the western town of Dang on Thursday top rebels said the government was not committed to peace and that they may restart their campaign of violence.

The government says it is sincere about the peace process.

It withdrew the terrorist label on the rebels in January ahead of a ceasefire and peace talks. But officials have not yet commented on the American move.

On Wednesday the US State Department added the Nepalese Maoist Party to its second tier of terrorist groups, bringing the number on the list to 38.

Unclear

The secondary group is said to act as a watch list for the first-tier, which includes groups such as al-Qaeda.

It is unclear why the US has made this move in the midst of the peace process in Nepal.

Some have linked it to the murder, last year, of two Nepali security personnel from the US embassy.

The rebels admitted they had carried out the killing.

Others argue the move may have been aimed at stepping up pressure on the rebels to be more flexible in the peace talks.

The United States has publicly backed the peace process and rejected a military solution to the seven-year conflict in which 7,000 people have died.




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