Rebel attack on police in Nepal: 9 killed, 22 wounded

Communist rebels attacked a police post with guns and explosives in southeast Nepal on Tuesday in a clash that killed at least nine policemen and three rebels and wounded 22 other people, officials said.

The rebels came in buses and trucks and attacked the police station at Birtamod, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Katmandu, said Bhola Siwakoti, the chief government official in the area.

The rebels also bombed several government offices in the town, on the busy east-west highway that runs the entire length of this Himalayan nation. There were no casualties in the office buildings, which were not yet open for the day.

Most of the nine policemen killed were felled by gunfire in the intial attack, Siwakoti said. An ensuing battle also killed at least three of the rebels, local police chief Keshari Ghimire said.

Royal Nepalese Army soldiers later took control of the town and searched surrounding areas for the attackers.

The rebels have intensified attacks on government troops since withdrawing from a unilateral cease-fire earlier this year.

On Monday, they ambushed an army patrol near Katmandu, sparking a clash that killed at least 13 soldiers and an insurgent.

The violence has continued despite a decision by the rebels on Sunday to end a six-day highway blockade that had crippled life across the country.

The rebels also canceled plans for an indefinite general strike starting April 3, but said they would support an April 6-9 general strike called by an alliance of seven major political parties which has been trying to restore democracy in Nepal, reports the AP.

I.L.