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No end to army action: Nepal

Kathmandu, Aug. 28 (Reuters): Nepal said today there would be no let up in army operations against Maoist rebels fighting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy even after a state of emergency expires.

Police blamed the rebels for a bomb blast at a supermarket in the heart of Kathmandu today. There were no injuries.

“It (the explosion) was by Maoists. It was a pressure cooker bomb,” senior police official Tapendra Dhoj Hamal said. Maoist rebels often pack explosives in pressure cookers.

Emergency rule was imposed in the poverty-ridden Himalayan kingdom last November to help authorities tackle the six-year-old insurgency that has claimed more than 4,700 lives.

It was extended in February and again in May, but will automatically expire if the government does not extend it before midnight today.

“The army operation will continue even if there is no emergency,” Chiranjivi Wagle, minister for physical planning and works, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

Wagle said the government would assess the security situation before deciding on the emergency, which gives security forces wide powers of search and detention.

“Whether to reimpose emergency rule again or not will be decided after the Prime Minister returns,” Wagle said. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is due to return from a visit to Belgium on the weekend.

Nepal imposed the emergency and ordered the army to crush the guerrillas after talks failed and the rebels launched big attacks in November.

The government has ruled out fresh talks with the insurgents unless they lay down their arms.

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