Maoist rebels set off bombs

Nepal's embattled government has offered to meet a demand by Maoist rebels to end their blockade of the capital after the guerrillas set off two bombs in and around Kathmandu. A government minister on Friday promised to provide information about leaders of student and trade unions linked to the Maoists, who rebels say are missing in the eight-year bloody conflict.

"The government urges the rebels to end violence and killings and come for a dialogue to end the revolt peacefully," Communications Minister Mohammad Mohsin told reporters as the commercial centre remained cut off for a third day due to the rebel-imposed siege. But Mohsin was silent about two other rebel demands to release jailed Maoists and order a probe into the alleged killings of guerrilla leaders in fake gun battles.

There was no immediate comment from the Maoists, who are fighting to topple the constitutional monarchy in the desperately poor Himalayan nation between India and China, informs Reuters.

Suspected Maoist guerrillas have set off two bombs in and around Nepal's capital, wounding two people as the commercial centre remained cut off for a third day by a rebel-imposed blockade.

Two men shot and wounded a policeman guarding a government building in central Kathmandu before they entered the building and planted a crude bomb under a staircase, police say. The blast, which also wounded a passing motorcyclist, left twisted metal frames and glass littering the area around the city's busy Dilli Bazar area.

"The rebels are targeting public places where there are crowds," a police officer at the scene said. "Luckily, not many people were around here as it was still early in the day.” Hours earlier, suspected rebels set off a bomb at an empty police post on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The blasts are seen as an attempt to scare people and ensure the blockade of major roads into the city is not violated.

The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal's constitutional monarchy and instil deep fear in Nepalis. They are notorious for lightning raids on government offices, army camps and police posts, often killing or capturing dozens of people. Scores of bomb attacks in the capital since 1996 and targeted killings of senior officials have added to the sense of fear.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the revolt, which has also hurt the economy and triggered political turmoil in one of the world's poorest nations, reports TVNZ.

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