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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 16:06 GMT
Nepal rebels expel senior leaders
By Bhagirath Yogi
BBC News, Kathmandu

Maoist rebels in Rolpa district
The rebels have spent 10 years fighting to unseat the king
The Maoist rebel movement in Nepal says it has expelled two senior figures for publicly criticising its top leaders.

A central committee statement accused the men, Rabindra Shreshtha and Anukul, of "counter-revolutionary" activities.

On Monday, the pair accused party chairman Prachanda and another senior rebel Baburam Bhattarai of "ideological deviation" and being soft on the king.

The row comes as major towns and cities in Nepal face a blockade called by the rebels in protest against the king.

More than 13,000 people have died in the 10 years since the Maoists began their fight to replace the monarchy with a communist republic.

'Out of the country'

In the statement, Prachanda said both men had already been suspended from the party for "anti-party activities".

Rebel leader Prachanda
Prachanda: Accused of living outside Nepal

He also alleged that the two leaders had served the interests of the royal regime by breaching the Maoists' discipline.

Shrestha and Anukul had accused him of turning soft towards the monarchy, contrary to rebel policy.

They also accused Prachanda and Mr Bhattarai of spending most of their time "out of the country" and not sending their children to the battlefield.

Prachanda, however, refused to respond to any of these allegations.

Last year, he and Mr Bhattarai fell out with each other publicly, but later patched up their differences.

The royal government is yet to comment on the latest row within the Maoist leadership.

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