One soldier killed, six injured in explosions in Nepal

Communist rebels detonated a buried explosive under a Nepalese army patrol, killing one soldier, despite a unilateral cease-fire by the guerrillas, news reports said Monday.

The blast on Sunday near the village Daya, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of the Katmandu, also left one soldier critically injured, the Kantipur newspaper reported.

The patrol tried to retreat to safety, and was hit by another buried explosive that injured five more soldiers, the report said.

Because of government censorship, local newspapers are only allowed to cite government sources while reporting on the communist insurgency.

The attack could not be confirmed by independent sources. Officials in Katmandu told The Associated Press they were not aware of the incident.

The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, declared a unilateral cease-fire in September intended to allow for a resumption of peace talks with the government.

The government has refused to negotiate, saying the guerrillas must first give up violence and lay down their weapons.

Rebel violence in Nepal has escalated since King Gyanendra seized control of the government in February. He said the measure was necessary to quell the communist insurgency, which has killed about 12,000 people since 1996.

Meanwhile, the Royal Nepalese Army in a statement said it had arrested three soldiers on charges of extorting money from civilians.

The statement said the soldiers were found threatening the local people around their camp at Jhapa, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Katmandu, and taking money from them.

An investigation is being conducted and they would be punished severely if found guilty, the statement said without elaborating.

The army has been under pressure from rights groups both in Nepal and abroad to improve its human rights record, AP reports.

A. A.

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