Killing 41, Maoist Rebels in Nepal Warn of More
KATMANDU, Nepal A Maoist rebel leader who took responsibility for the killing of 41 policemen last week asked his followers Sunday to gear up for fresh attacks.
"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 statement faxed 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 this Himalayan kingdom. The Maoist rebels oppose the new King Gyanendra, calling him a puppet of neighboring India and the CIA. They want to convert Nepal into a republic and dismantle the feudal structure that remains in parts of the country.
The 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 that is a 12-hour walk from the nearest road, three rebels also were killed.
In another attack Friday at Taruka, about 80 kilometers northwest of Katmandu, the rebels killed 10 policemen and seriously injured two others.
In Gulmi district, 10 policemen were killed by the rebels in an attack at Bamitaksar, 300 kilometers west of Katmandu. Two bodies of rebel fighters were recovered near the police station where a gun battle took place.
A 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.
More than 1,600 people have been killed in the insurgency since it began in 1996. The Maoists run a parallel administration in four of Nepal's 75 districts.
Before the attacks on the police Friday, the Maoists blew up a telephone tower on Thursday night, disrupting telephone services. On Friday, they were reported to have bombed a movie theater on the outskirts of Katmandu. The Maoists have called a nationwide strike for Thursday to protest tough new security laws that give the government sweeping powers to arrest and detain anyone seen as a threat to national security.
source: International Herald Tribune, July 9, 2001