Number of killings and bombings dropped significantly in Nepal

The number of killings and bombings has dropped significantly in Nepal since communist rebels called a cease-fire, but kidnappings have increased, the National Human Rights Commission said Friday. Only 84 insurgency-related murders have been reported throughout the Himalayan country since the guerrillas declared the unilateral cease-fire on Sept. 3, compared to 481 during the three months before that, it said.

"The trend has been good. The number of people killed and explosions decreased significantly during the cease-fire, but other violence like abductions increased," said Sudip Pathak, a member of the rights commission.

The rebels initially announced a three-month suspension of hostilities on Sept. 3, and then extended it by a month. The temporary cease-fire ends next week, and the guerrillas haven't said anything about extending it again.

Under the cease-fire, the rebels pledged not to attack military or civilian targets, but said they would continue to defend their positions. However, they have continued to block highways, extort money, and kidnap villagers for indoctrination sessions, the commission said.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting to topple Nepal's monarchy and establish a communist state. Some 12,000 people have been killed in the insurgency, which began in 1996, reports the AP. I.L.

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