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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 12:52 GMT
Analysis: Nepal's Maoist rebellion
Nepalese soldiers in jeep
Hit-and-run attacks are the most common attack
By South Asia analyst Alastair Lawson

This is one of the most violent encounters between the rebels and the security forces since the Maoists began their rebellion.

So far over 1,000 people have been killed in the insurgency.

The rebels are fighting to overthrow the country's constitutional monarchy with a one-party state.

They are particularly active in remote areas of the west and mid-west of the country and mostly carry out hit-and-run attacks on police and security force outposts.

Retaliation

It may be that the latest incident is in part a retaliation attack by the security forces after 15 policemen were killed at the weekend.

A police spokesman said that the 18 rebels were killed in three separate clashes in remote districts in the west of the country.

The police say that one policeman was also killed.

So far, the rebels have not commented on the clash, but on other occasions similar to this they have accused the security forces of instigating fake encounters to kill civilians they suspect of supporting the Maoists.

Damaged hopes

The violence of the last week has seriously damaged any hope that the rebels and the government might be able to negotiate a settlement.

Both sides have indicated a willingness to talk, but so far no meeting has taken place.

Matters are made more complicated by the fact that most of the rebel leadership is either in prison or operating underground.

Earlier this month, human rights groups accused both the security forces and the rebels of carrying out human rights abuses.

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See also:

08 Feb 00 | South Asia
Nepal urged to talk to Maoist rebels
29 Nov 99 | South Asia
Amnesty offer to Nepal rebels
04 May 99 | South Asia
Nepal: Politics and pessimism
31 Dec 98 | South Asia
Nepal: Instability breeds poverty
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