- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2002

SATBARIYA, Nepal Nepalese authorities yesterday raised the death toll from a night of fighting to 160, many of them police officers beheaded by Maoist rebels, marking the worst battle in a 6-year-old guerrilla war.
The dramatic jump in the death toll the government had reported 54 deaths Friday was revealed by local officials to journalists who traveled overnight by road to the two remote towns in western Nepal where most of the fighting occurred on Thursday night and early Friday.
Also yesterday, a bomb exploded near a school in the northwestern town of Laltin Bazaar, killing three persons and injuring four others, police said.
One postal worker, one town resident and a man who had just dropped off his wife at the school were killed.
Police Inspector Padam Vohra told the Associated Press that 60 police officers were killed while defending the house of Interior Security Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka from a rebel attack. Another 27 police officers who surrendered were beheaded, and two were burned alive, he said. About 30 police officers survived.
Inspector Vohra said 11 police officers were killed in an attack on a police station in the nearby town of Lamahi. The two attacks set off overnight gunbattles that left hundreds of rebels dead, he said.
An AP reporter saw at least 60 bodies of guerrillas half-buried along a dry riverbed a few miles from the minister's house. The bodies had apparently been left by the retreating guerrillas.
Some of the bodies were headless, and dogs were eating others. Many corpses were half-buried with only their legs sticking above the shallow graves.
Thwran Thaket, a senior police constable, said he believed the rebels took many more fallen comrades in two trucks with 95 rifles and three machine guns looted from the dead police officers.
The minister's house was gutted and blackened by fire. Two burned sedans were parked outside the 10-foot-high boundary wall.
On the ground were blotches of blood, shreds of police uniforms, destroyed sofas and cupboards and twisted, blackened bicycles. Shards of broken glass were scattered across the town.
The 120 paramilitary police guarding the house were surrounded by thousands of rebels, witnesses said.
"They are so ferocious that they killed officers, even after they surrendered," Inspector Vohra said. "They were stripped naked, then paraded, and finally beheaded with khukris, he said, referring to the traditional Nepalese knives.
[Nepal said yesterday that New Delhi had handed over eight Maoist rebels who had crossed into India, in the first extradition of members of the left-wing group between the neighbors.
[The rebels had been wounded in clashes and escaped into the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where they received medical treatment, Agence France-Presse reported, quoting the Defense Ministry.]

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