06 August 2006

Atrocity in Nepal

Nepal's King urges peace in aftermath of bloodshed

The Associated Press, with files from Reuters

SATBARIYA, Nepal - Nepal's king appealed for peace and unity in a New Year message to his nation yesterday, three days after at least 160 people were believed killed in the increasingly bloody communist revolt to topple him.

"Continued violence and destruction of development infrastructure in the country has left our economy in shambles," said the King, who assumed the throne last June when Crown Prince Dipendra killed King Birendra and other relatives in a palace massacre before shooting himself.

The tiny impoverished nation is under emergency rule as King Gyanendra and his government try to crush Maoist rebels who control about a quarter of the country and are seeking to create a one-party communist state.

At the scene of the latest clash, in Dang district, 305 kilometres west of Katmandu, spent cartridges carpeted a floor stained with blood and littered with shredded police uniforms in a burned-out house. In a dry river bed nearby lay the bodies of dozens of victims of the bloodiest battle between police and Nepalese rebels in six years of fighting.

The battle began when thousands of Maoist rebels armed with rocket launchers and automatic rifles poured into four towns in the Himalayan kingdom's remote western foothills on Thursday.

By the following morning, more than 100 police officers were dead -- some of them stripped, forced to march naked and then beheaded, police said. Six civilians and at least 60 guerrillas were also killed before the rebels withdrew, torching the house of the government minister in charge of Nepal's police.

Police said the main target of the rebel raid was the two-storey house of Khum Bahadur Khadka, the Interior Security Minister, in his native town, Satbariya. Mr. Khadka was in Katmandu at the time, but the house was being guarded by 120 paramilitary policemen.

Firing grenades, rockets and guns, the rebels fought with police for several hours. About 60 policemen were shot to death, said police Inspector Padam Vohra. He said the rebels beheaded 27 policeman who surrendered and burned two others to death. "They are so ferocious that they killed officers ... even after they surrendered. They were stripped naked, then paraded, and finally beheaded with kukris," he said, referring to traditional Nepalese knives.

As they withdrew to their mountain hideouts, the rebels apparently dumped the bodies of their slain comrades, half burying them on the side of a dry river bed a few kilometres from the Minister's house. At least 60 bodies lay strewn across the ground on Saturday.

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