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Nepali army attacks rebel meeting, five said killed

Written by: Staff
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Kathmandu, Mar 28: Nepali army helicopters attacked a gathering of Maoist rebels to the east of the capital of the Himalayan kingdom killing at least five people, officials and media reports said.

The operation took place yesterday near a school in Thokarpa village, 90 km east of Kathmandu, where the guerrillas had gathered, n army officer said.

''We launched an air offensive after they fired on our helicopters,'' he said. ''Ground forces have also been rushed to the area but details are awaited.'' Media reports said that at least five people had been killed and half a dozen houses destroyed in the attack.

Violence has escalated since the rebels, fighting to replace the Hindu monarchy with a communist state, ended a unilateral truce in January after the government refused to match it.

King Gyanendra sacked the government and seized absolute power last year, a move he said was necessary to fight the Maoists.

The decade-old revolt has killed more than 13,000 people -- 300 of them since January -- and shattered Nepal's economy which is dependent on aid and tourism.

The rebels recently vowed to take their battle to the cities. Until now the fighting has mainly raged in the countryside.

REUTERS

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