Nepal Maoists launch fresh attack
KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Officials in Nepal say Maoist rebels have launched a new attack on a town in the west of the country less than 24 hours after the government reported an attack on a police post in which 49 policemen were killed.
Government officials in Kathmandu told CNN that rebels struck the town of Sandhikharka town in the district of Arghakhanchi, early Monday, inflicting heavy casualties on the security forces stationed there.
The area is about 300 km (186 miles) west of the capital.
"We don't have the details of the damage yet since all the communication to the district has been cut off," Devendra Raj Kandel, the state minister for home affairs, told CNN.
"Our reinforcements have gone there in helicopters, and we'll know the details once they come back."
The minister, however, feared the worst.
"There were about 100 security personnel there, including the army and police, and we don't have any word of what might have happened to them."
According to security sources, rebels seemed to have struck Sandhikharka at 10:45 p.m. Sunday local time, and the battle continued until the morning.
Reinforcements were rushed in by helicopter as well in an effort to hold the town.
"Army choppers with night vision capability also joined the fight, firing from the air," Kandel said.
The latest violence comes less than 24 hours after rebels killed 49 policemen in Bhiman village, about 124 miles (200 km) east of Kathmandu.
According to the police, the bodies of six dead rebels have also been recovered from Bhiman, and they suspect the Maoists could have suffered more casualties.
The rebels have stepped up their campaign since emergency rule was lifted August 28.
Analysts say the stepped-up violence is aimed at forcing the government to impose another emergency.
"That will most certainly disrupt the November polls and will also weaken state institutions, which the Maoists want," said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of the influential Kantipur newspaper.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was convening his cabinet Monday to discuss security measures.
Government ministers have said it is possible they will again impose emergency rule to deal with the Maoist violence.
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