Ambush kills 21 Nepal policemen

Maoist rebels have ambushed two police trucks in Nepal, killing 21 policemen and wounding 12.

    Nepal's police are battling a Maoist insurgency

    Monday's ambush represents a stepping up of violence that analysts says has dimmed

    hopes for early peace talks.

    The attack, the biggest since Sher Bahadur Deuba was

    reappointed prime minister on 2 June, took place on a highway

    in a forest area at Khairikhola, 450km west of the

    capital Kathmandu.

    Surviving policemen said hundreds of rebels surrounded the

    police convoy and fired automatic weapons at the first

    truck. Soon after, there was a blast under the second truck.

    A police official said the trucks were carrying 37 policemen on

    their way to clear a roadblock put up by the Maoists in the

    area. Six of the wounded were in critical condition, doctors

    said.

    Officials said they did not have any information about

    rebel losses as the Maoists usually carry away their fallen

    comrades.

    "They (the Maoist rebels)see the new government as a new equation by the king

    to crush the revolt and would therefore carry out more

    attacks"

    Rajendra Dahal,
    Editor, Himal magazine

    The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to overthrow

    Nepal's constitutional monarchy and set up a communist republic

    in the world's only Hindu kingdom.

    More than 10,000 people have been killed in the insurgency

    that has wrecked the economy of the poor Himalayan country

    wedged between Asian giants China and India.

    Soon after King Gyanendra reappointed him, Deuba appealed

    to the rebels to resume talks they abandoned last year.

    But the Maoists, who consider Deuba to be a puppet of the

    king, rejected his call and said his reappointment would

    exacerbate the bloody conflict.

    School strike

    The rebels have since then set off two powerful bombs at a

    school in Kathmandu causing extensive damage but no casualties.

    They have also forced 6.5 million students to stay home for more than a

    week by calling an indefinite school strike across the country.

    The attack was the biggest since 
    Deuba was reappointed PM 

    The bomb blasts and school shutdown should have warned the

    government of attacks like the one on Monday, said Rajendra

    Dahal, editor of the widely read Nepali magazine, Himal.

    "They see the new government as a new equation by the king

    to crush the revolt and would therefore carry out more

    attacks," Dahal said.

    Meanwhile, Nepali officials said on Monday that India had provided two

    military attack helicopters to the country's poorly equipped

    army to help crush the insurgency.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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