Government troops shot dead 22 rebels on Tuesday in two separate gun battles in the rugged hilly Rolpa district, the Maoist heartland 400km west of Kathmandu, an army officer said.

Three soldiers were also killed in the fighting, he said, adding that troops had recovered arms from the rebels.
 
The army statement could not be independently verified as the fighting was in a remote area and the rebels usually do not comment on casualties.

Wishful thinking

The Maoists elusive leader, Prachanda, in a Reuters email interview on Monday, ruled out talks or a ceasefire with the government and said the rebels would soon come to power by ousting what he called "mediaeval and barbaric feudal
autocrats".
   
Nepal's Information and Communications Minister Tanka Dhakal Dhakal dismissed Prachanda's statements as wishful thinking.
   
"This is laughable. It's only day-dreaming. The terrorists are destroying infrastructure and are indulging in violence. The state can't remain a silent spectator to this." Dhakal said.

Talks rejected

The new government has also rejected talks with the Maoists, saying the rebels lacked a coherent political philosophy.
  
"When there is no political cause or thinking, there is no reason for the government to hold talks with them," Dhakal said.

The Maoists, inspired by the teachings of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, want to abolish Nepal's constitutional monarchy and establish a communist republic in its place.