50 MAOISTS SLAIN IN DAYLONG CLASH IN NEPAL
by Chiranjibi Paudyal
American Reporter Correspondent
KATHMANDU, Sept. 17, 2003 -- Nepalese security forces Wednesday killed more than 50 Maoists in the Bhabang area of Rolpa district, the stronghold of Communist rebels in western Nepal, in the bloodiest clash since the breakdown of a ceasefire and peace talks three weeks ago.
The security forces attacked the training camps of the Maoists in the Kuikot jungle in Bhabang in northwest Nepal.
The death toll could be over 100, officials said. Five members of Nepalese security forces were killed and over a dozen injured in the fighting, which continued throughout and entire day, they said.
This is the bloodiest clash between the government and the Maoists since the breakdown of a ceasefire and peace talks three weeks ago. Local journalists in Nepalgunj, quoting security officials, say that the death toll on the Maoist side could be very high and some senior Maoist leaders could be killed in the fighting.
However the Maoists do not operate in public and the death toll could not be independently confirmed. A Maoist source told the BBC Nepali service that very few Maoists were killed in the incident. There are reports of murder, torture and kidnappings by the Maoists almost daily across the country.
The political crisis of the Himalayan kingdom has deepen with the breakdown of the cease-fire and the increasing rift between the mainstream political parties and the government of King Birendra since a takeover by the King on October 4, 2002.
Meanwhile, the American government has expressed its willingness to help Nepal defeat the Maoists rebels, and the five major political parties have been launching peaceful protests demanding the reinstatement of the dissolved House of Parliament and restoration of democracy in the country, and the Maoists rebels fighting to create a people's republic replacing the present democratic constitution promulgated after a 1990 popular movement.
More than 7,500 people have been killed since the fighting began six years ago.