By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press Writer Tue Jan 3, 1:55 PM ET
KATMANDU, Nepal - Army troops in Nepal were on high alert Tuesday after communist rebels ended their unilateral cease-fire and a series of explosions rocked two cities and a town.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Monday night’s explosions, which came just hours after the rebels announced they planned to resume attacks after a four-month cease-fire. No injuries were reported.
The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting in 1996 to replace the constitutional monarchy with a socialist state. The insurgency has claimed about 12,000 lives.
Security officials said they increased the number of soldiers and policemen patrolling the country’s cities and highways to deter attacks by the rebels, including in the Rupandehi district where two of Monday’s blasts struck.
"Security has been tightened around the area," district administrative officer Gangadutta Awasti said.
Near-simultaneous explosions hit Bhairahawa city and neighboring Butwal town in Rupandehi district, about 175 miles southwest of the capital, Katmandu.
The blasts damaged government buildings but nobody was hurt because the attacks came at night when offices were closed, Awasti said.
Two more blasts hit near a police station in Pokhara, a resort town about 125 miles west of Katmandu, a police officer in Pokhara said on customary condition of anonymity.
They had declared a three-month unilateral cease-fire Sept. 3, which they later extended by one month, offering a chance for peace.
On Monday, just hours before the cease-fire was set to expire, the rebels announced they would not renew it because the government had refused to match their pledge and attacked rebel positions throughout the Maoists’ self-imposed cease-fire.
The rebel announcement came despite pleas by human rights groups and Nepali political parties to extend the cease-fire. It had been widely expected to be extended again.
The rebels agreed last year to work with the country’s seven main political parties to step up their opposition to the administration of King Gyanendra, who seized control of the government in February 2005, citing the need to fight the insurgency and reduce corruption.
Since then, the government has suspended civil liberties, jailed hundreds of politicians and activists, and banned criticism of the government and security forces in the Hindu nation of about 27 million people.
The government had refused to join the cease-fire, calling it a ploy by the militants to buy time to reorganize.
Under the cease-fire, the rebels pledged not to attack military or civilian targets to promote a return to peace talks, but said they would continue to defend their positions. They also continued to block highways, extort money and kidnap villagers for indoctrination sessions.
Separately Tuesday, the
European Commission said the EU will spend $14.25 million to protect human rights in Nepal. The money will help strengthen the country’s human rights commission and the supreme court, fund legal aid for victims of human rights abuses and finance a U.N. human rights monitoring mission.