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Maoists kill general, 3 soldiers in ambush

Kathmandu, Nov. 15 (Reuters): A Nepali brigadier general and three soldiers were killed when Maoist rebels, fighting to replace the constitutional monarchy with a communist republic, ambushed an army patrol today, an army spokesman said.

Brigadier General Sagar Bahadur Pandey was the most senior army officer to be killed since the rebels launched their armed revolt for a communist republic, in which more than 8,100 people have died since 1996.

“They died when an army vehicle drove into an ambush laid by the rebels,” an army spokesman said. The incident took place near Hetauda, about 150 km south of the Nepal capital Kathmandu.

At least six other soldiers were wounded and flown in a helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu, said the spokesman.

The rebels, who abandoned peace talks in August, recently started raiding military and government installations in the Terai region — the main commercial and industrial hub of the Himalayan kingdom.

Violence has escalated since the rebels, who model themselves on the late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, pulled out of peace talks after the government refused their demand for a new constitution to decide the future of monarchy.

At least 900 people, mostly the Maoist guerrillas, have died since then.

Chinese ambassador to Nepal Sun Heping vowed yesterday his country’s support to the government in its drive to crush the rebels who consider the post-Mao China counter-revolutionary.

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