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Nepal's army says rebels kidnap three policemen

Written by: Staff

KATHMANDU, May 5 (Reuters) - Nepal's Maoist rebels have taken three policemen captive in a remote area in the west of the country, the army said today, days after the guerrillas declared a truce.

The Maoists last week declared a three-month ceasefire in their decade-old campaign to topple the country's monarchy after King Gyanendra bowed to street protests and handed power back to political parties.

The incident is the first reported operation carried out by the rebels since the declaration of the truce. The rebels could not be immediately reached for comment.

''Three unarmed policemen were kidnapped by the Maoists while they were on their way to work,'' an army officer said. ''They were kidnapped on Wednesday in Bajura and taken to an unknown place.'' Bajura is a Maoist stronghold about 600 km west of Kathmandu.

Nepal's new multi-party government has matched the rebel ceasefire, and the Maoists have agreed to join the government in talks to try and end the conflict in which more than 13,000 people have died since 1996.

Earlier this week, Nepal's parliament approved a proposal to hold elections for a special assembly to decide the future of monarchy but the date for the vote has not been set. The Maoists say they will accept the outcome of the poll.


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