Communist rebels attack west Nepal: 3 killed

Communist rebels attacked security bases and government offices in overnight assaults in western Nepal that left at least three soldiers dead, officials said Wednesday. The rebels attacked the army camp, police station, town jail and government buildings around midnight at Tansen, a town about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of the capital, Katmandu.

A Royal Nepalese Army spokesman in Katmandu said at least three soldiers were killed in the attack but other details were not immediately available.

Few details of the fighting, which continued through Wednesday morning, were available because communications with Tansen and nearby areas were severed. Security officials reached by telephone feared there would be casualties, said Gangadutta Awasti, who is the chief government administration officer in neighboring Rupandehi district.

Army helicopters were able to land and reinforcement has reached the area, Awasti said.

The Maoist rebels have intensified attacks since they ended a unilateral cease-fire on Jan. 2, accusing the government of attacking them and failing to match their suspension of violence.

They have announced plans to disrupt government plans to hold municipal elections on Feb. 8 in all 58 cities and towns across this Himalayan kingdom. Tansen is also among the areas where elections are scheduled next week. The rebels have issued warnings to candidates to withdraw their names and not to assist in any way.

The guerrillas, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting in 1996 to replace the constitutional monarchy with a socialist state. The insurgency has claimed about 12,000 lives, reports the AP. I.L.

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