In a series of coordinated assaults, communist rebels attacked a Nepalese army base, bombed nine government buildings and stormed a local jail freeing more than a dozen comrades, officials said yesterday. Two police officers were killed.
The near-simultaneous attacks occurred at Charikot, about 120km east of Katmandu, said police officials reached by telephone on condition of anonymity.
Two police officers were killed in the attack on the local jail, which set free 28 inmates including 15 rebels being held.
The guerrillas also bombed nine government buildings in the late-night raid, but no one was injured as the offices were unoccupied, police said. A local army camp was also attacked, but Nepalese soldiers returned fire and the rebels retreated. Police said they weren't sure how many casualties resulted from the fighting.
It was the second failed assault on a military base in as many days after the army repelled a rebel raid about 400km west of Katmandu on Friday. Hundreds of guerrillas attacked that base and 97 were killed as fighting raged for 12 hours. Three soldiers also died.
Meanwhile, the army said yesterday two Russian mountaineers were wounded en route to Mount Everest after their vehicle hit a land mine planted by communist rebels on a highway.
The latest blast came after another land mine exploded under a bus on Saturday south of Katmandu, killing at least three people and wounding 27.
Both explosions were likely to deal a blow to Nepal's struggling tourism industry, which has already been hobbled by the escalating insurgency and political uncertainty after the king's power grab earlier this year. Officials have said tourist arrivals in the scenic Himalayan nation have plunged in February and March, normally the peak climbing season.
The Russians were in a van heading toward the Everest base camp on Saturday when the blast occurred, said Major Sushil Dahal, blaming Maoist guerrillas for the explosion.
Dahal said the two men were airlifted in an army helicopter to the capital Katmandu for treatment. One was undergoing treatment for unspecified wounds, while the other was treated and released from a hospital, doctors said yesterday.
The explosion occurred near Chehere village on the Arniko highway, about 160km west of Katmandu. Rebels called an 11-day general strike that began on April 2 across this Himalayan nation, and warned against travel on the major highway. They have targeted vehicles that have defied their orders.