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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 17:33 GMT
Interpol goes after Nepal rebels
By Navin Singh Khadka
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu

Rebel second-in-command Baburam Bhattarai
Baburam Bhattarai led the rebel team in failed peace talks
The international police agency, Interpol, has issued arrest warrants for 11 top Nepalese rebels.

They include the Maoist rebel leader, Prachanda, his second-in-command, Baburam Bhattarai, and spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

More than 8,000 people have died in the Maoists' eight-year insurrection aimed at replacing the Himalayan kingdom's monarchy with a communist republic.

The Interpol move comes after peace talks collapsed in Nepal in August.

This is the second time Interpol has sought the arrests of top rebels.

Security officials in Nepal say that the Interpol arrest warrants - known as Red Notices - will help police forces in the organisation's 181 member countries to arrest the rebel leaders.

'Terrorists'

The warrants come shortly after a leading member of the opposition in Nepal met top Maoist rebel leaders in northern India, reports say.

Rebel fighters
Thousands have died since the rebels took up arms in 1996
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal held meetings with rebel leaders Prachanda, Mr Bhattarai and Mr Mahara in the Indian city of Lucknow last week.

Maoist leaders are said to be using India for shelter.

India is also a member of Interpol and, like Nepal, has branded the Maoist rebels as terrorists.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said India had no reports that Nepali Maoist leaders had taken shelter in the country.

But a spokesman told the BBC India would honour its Interpol commitments regarding the warrants.

Ceasefire over

Interpol first issued warrants against the rebel leaders two years ago at the request of the Nepalese Government.

Seventeen central Maoist leaders were put on Interpol's wanted list.

They were removed after the government and the rebels agreed on a ceasefire in January.

Following the collapse of peace process in August, the government once more labelled the rebels as terrorists and once again requested Interpol to issue the warrants.

Nepalese police officials said they had asked Interpol to issue warrants against 21 rebel leaders.

They say Interpol has assured them that 10 other rebel leaders' names will be added to the list very soon.


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