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36 die in Nepal’s 24-hour cycle of violence

Kathmandu, Dec. 3 (Agencies): At least 36 people including six policemen were killed in Nepal in the past 24 hours in some of the deadliest clashes between troops and Maoist guerrillas since the rebels quit peace talks in August, officials said.

Maoist rebels, fighting to topple Nepal’s Hindu monarchy, killed six policemen and wounded 11 in the Kailali district, 600 km west of Kathmandu, district administrator Sibendra Purush Dhakal said by telephone today.

The area is a Maoist stronghold.

The rebels ambushed the patrol, throwing crude bombs and opening fire with rifles, as the policemen were going through a forest.

‘There was a fierce battle and many Maoists could have also been killed,” an army officer said.

State radio said bodies of 14 Maoist guerrillas were recovered from the site of the battle.

Elsewhere, 16 guerrillas were killed in separate gunbattles, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The rebels, who follow the teachings of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting to set up a communist republic since 1996. More than 8,100 people have been killed.

Violence has increased since August when peace talks collapsed after the government rejected a rebel demand for a new constitution to curb the role of the monarchy.

Officials say the rebels, who until recently were most active in Nepal’s Himalayan foothills, are now mounting attacks in cities and on the southern plains, the country’s main business and industrial area along the border with India.

The violence has hurt the country’s important tourism sector, although the rebels have said they have no intention of attacking foreign mountaineers, hikers and other visitors.

Beijing has told Kathmandu to resolve the seven-year old Maoist problem without any foreign intervention.

“Nepal is capable of dealing with its internal problem by itself and there is no need for foreign intervention,” chairman of the Chinese Peoples’ Political Consultative Committee Jia Quinglin told Nepalese Premier Surya Bahadur Thapa during a meeting here.

China has also wished Nepal success in establishing peace in the country, nepalese foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya said after the meeting.

“The government of China wants to see political stability, peace and development in Nepal,” he said.

Jia, fourth in rank among Chinese leaders, and Thapa discussed bilateral relations and political matters, he said.

The Chinese leader, who arrived here yesterday for a two-day visit, also had an audience with King Gyanendra at the Narayanhiti royal palace today. The meeting lasted for about half -an-hour, royal palace sources said. Jia also met Rajparishad chairman Parasunarayan Chaudhari.

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