Nepalese rebel commander killed in fresh fighting

Soldiers shot and killed a communist rebel commander as he tried to bomb an army patrol in Nepal, the army said Wednesday. Bibas Thapa, who headed a local militia unit, was about to attack a patrol near Shree village about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of the capital, Katmandu, when he was killed Monday, the Royal Nepalese Army said in a written statement.

Grenades and other explosives were recovered from the body, the statement said. It was not possible to independently confirm the deceased man's identity due to the remote location of the incident. The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting in 1996 to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy with a socialist state. The insurgency has claimed about 12,000 lives. A unilateral cease-fire announced, by the rebels Sept. 3, is set to end next week.

Though violence and fighting have decreased since the cease-fire, the guerrillas have continued to kidnap hundreds of villagers, students and those who oppose them, reports the AP. I.L.

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