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Nepal says 37 Maoist rebels killed

United States

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Thirty-seven Maoist rebels have been killed as security forces repelled a series of major attacks in Nepal's southern district, a Royal Nepal Army official said Tuesday.

One soldier and three policemen were also killed in the attack.

It was the fiercest fighting between rebels and security forces since King Gyanendra took absolute power on February 1, saying that successive governments led by the political parties had failed to control the Maoist menace.

The attacks took place as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day official visit during which she stressed that Nepal's Maoist rebellion poses a serious threat to regional security.

The United States remains one of Nepal's major arms suppliers.

Rocca is Washington's most senior official to visit Nepal since Gyanendra sacked the government, seized power, detained political leaders and suspended civil liberties.

Rocca also met leaders of some of seven mainstream political parties that have formed a united front against the monarch and are demanding the revival of parliament, which was disbanded in 2002, to resolve the crisis.

On Tuesday, India announced that it would resume sending military supplies to Nepal. Shipments had been suspended since February 1 in protest of King Gyanendra's move.

The encounter between the security forces and the Maoists took place in Siraha -- 350 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Kathmandu.

More than 11,000 Nepalis have died since the Maoists launched a "people's war" in 1996.

Journalist Akhilesh Upadhyay contributed to this report.

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