- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

KATMANDU, Nepal Communist rebels killed at least 129 police, soldiers and civilians in unprecedented attacks in northwestern Nepal yesterday, undermining prospects for peace in this poor Himalayan kingdom still recovering from the shock of a massacre at the royal palace last year.
The attacks on government offices and an airport were the deadliest since the rebels began fighting in 1996 from remote mountain areas to topple the constitutional monarchy.
The rebels, who draw their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, had abandoned peace talks and ended a cease-fire in November, saying negotiations had produced no results. The government declared a state of emergency three days later.
Early yesterday, the rebels set ablaze buildings and fired at police in the town of Mangalsen, the administrative center of the Achham district, killing 49 police officers, the Interior Security Ministry said in a statement. Mangalsen is about 375 miles northwest of the capital, Katmandu.
The guerrillas then attacked a small airport in the nearby town of Sanphebaga, killing another 27 police officers standing guard, a Home Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
Forty-eight Royal Nepalese Army soldiers stationed in Mangalsen also were killed, Defense Ministry spokesman Bhola Silwal said in a separate news release.
Others killed in the attacks included the district's chief administrator, Mohan Singh Khadka, a central intelligence bureau official and his wife.
The rebels a 3,000- to 4,000-strong force accustomed to using knives and aging muskets yesterday used modern weapons looted from the military during a previous attack.
Bad weather and the mountainous terrain delayed the arrival of police reinforcements, an official news release said.
It said there could be major casualties on the rebel side as well. Fighters were seen taking away bodies of other guerrillas, according to officials. State-run Radio Nepal said the army had sealed off the entire area and security forces had fanned out in a massive search for the rebels.


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