Rebel leader warns of more Nepal attacks
KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Fresh attacks are being called for by the leader of a group of Maoist fighters who have claimed responsibility for the killing of 41 policemen in bloody raids.
The warning comes as the country faces increasing strife in the wake of the massacre of most of the royal family and the crowning of a new, less popular king.
"After the successful operations, there could be retaliations for which our fighters and supporters need to be alert and move ahead in a strategic manner," said Prachanda, the rebel leader, in a fax to news organizations.
Prachanda, who uses only one name -- which means "fierce" -- expressed "heartfelt condolence" for his comrades who died in the assault on the policemen Friday night.
He did not say how many were killed in the raids.
The attacks came just days before a general strike called by the rebels in the Himalayan kingdom.
The Maoist rebels oppose the new King Gyanendra, calling him a "puppet of neighboring India and America's CIA."
They want to convert Nepal into a republic and dismantle the feudal structure that remains in parts of the country.
Nepal's leaders are willing to talk with the rebels but getting them to the table may prove difficult.
Violence has wracked the mountain kingdom that lies between India and China since the Maoists launched their rebellion in 1996 to try to topple the constitutional monarchy.
The insurgency has claimed about 1,750 lives, with the campaign intensifying in the wake of confusion since most of the royal family was massacred in June.
Rebels attacked police stations in three remote mountain villages in central Nepal on Friday night, killing at 41 policemen and seriously injuring at least a dozen others.
The largest casualties occurred in Bichaur, a village 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Katmandu, where rebels stormed a police station and killed 21 policemen.
In a gun battle that lasted more than three hours in this remote area which is 12 hours walk from the nearest road, three rebels were also killed.
In another attack Friday at Taruka, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Katmandu, the rebels killed 10 policemen and seriously injured two others.
In Gumli district, 10 policemen were killed by the rebels in an attack at Bamitaksar, 300 kilometers (188 miles) west of Katmandu. Two bodies of rebel fighters were recovered near the police station where a gun battle took place.
Police official Bikram Thapa said the rebels could have suffered heavy casualties but exact figures were not available because, as always, the insurgents carried away the bodies of their dead comrades.
The rebels blame Gyanendra for a June 1 massacre in which King Birendra, Queen Aiswarya and other members of the royal family were killed, allegedly by Crown Prince Dipendra, who then shot himself.
While a panel blamed the palace killings on crown prince Dipendra, the Maoists have repeatedly rejected the official explanation, saying the killings were a conspiracy by "imperialist and expansionist" forces.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is coming under mounting pressure from the opposition to resign for failing to contain the violence, which has seen bombs and "mock bombs" placed around the country's capital over the past week.
Koirala has also been slammed for the long delays in informing the country about the royal massacre.
In a bid to curb more attacks, the Himalayan kingdom's social democrat government has sent "feelers for talks" but the Maoists had not responded, Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Poudel told Reuters on Sunday.
"The government is always ready for talks to end the violence but the other side (the rebel group) is not serious for the meeting," Poudel said.
source: CNN, July 8, 2001