They are among the 868 people killed since Kathmandu launched the crackdown after peace talks with the rebels collapsed in August.

Independent human rights activists however say the latest offensive has claimed more lives, putting the two-month toll at about 1100.

"The rebels capability to carry out attacks on security posts have decreased," army spokesman Dipak Gurung said.

The Maoists have been battling government forces since 1996, seeking to replace the country's constitutional monarchy with a communist republic.

The conflict has killed more than 8000 people to date.

Maoist attacks had surged in recent months since they ended the ceasefire, after the government refused their demand for a new constitution to decide the role of the monarch.