Nepal communist rebels seek ransom for former PM's abducted son

Communist rebels in Nepal have demanded a ransom of 30 million rupees (US$430,000; -345,000) for the release of a former prime minister's son abducted last month, news reports said Tuesday.

Rebels late last month snatched Lokendra Bahadur Chand's adult son, Arun, from his sugar factory in Chuhabazaar, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) west of the capital, Katmandu.

The Kantipur newspaper said the ransom demand was made through human rights activists and journalists who are negotiating the release.

Police said they had no information about the reported ransom demand.

The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting since 1996 in an attempt to topple Nepal's monarchy. The insurgency has left about 12,000 people dead.

The guerrillas unilaterally declared a cease-fire on Sept. 3, but have continued to abduct villagers, opponents, students and politicians.

Under the cease-fire, the rebels have said they will defend their positions but will not launch any attacks, AP reported. V.A.

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