By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press Writer Thu Jan 5, 11:19 PM ET
KATMANDU, Nepal - Suspected rebels killed three police and wounded four more in attacks across Nepal on Thursday, while hundreds of protesters marched through Katmandu, demanding restoration of democracy in the Himalayan kingdom.
The casualties, including six civilians, were the first since Maoist rebels ended a four-month cease-fire on Monday, officials said.
The rebels declared a three-month unilateral cease-fire Sept. 3, which they extended by one month. On Monday, the rebels said they would not renew the truce, because the king’s administration refused to enter peace negotiations with them.
United Nations, the world body’s human rights chief Louise Arbour said "it is a tragedy for the people of Nepal that full-scale armed conflict may now resume."
"But there need not and must not be the same gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights standards that have been perpetrated during previous phases of the conflict," she said in a statement issued at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Arbour cited executions, abductions and disappearances, attacks on buses, indiscriminate bombing from helicopters over civilian areas and widespread torture of detained persons.
In Katmandu, about 3,000 protesters marched to demand the return of democracy. King Gyanendra seized absolute power in February last year vowing to crush the Maoist rebels who want to oust the monarchy and set up a socialist government.
The rally was organized by Nepali Congress (Democratic), one of the seven major political parties that signed a deal in November with the rebels intended to step up pressure on the king. "We want democracy. End autocracy now," chanted the protesters.
In the renewed attacks, suspected rebels fired on a police checkpoint on a highway leading to the airport at Nepalgunj, about 310 miles southwest of Katmandu, killing three policemen and wounding two, police official Basanta Lama told the AP on the telephone.
Earlier, insurgents ambushed a police patrol in Mahendranagar, near the Indian border in the west, injuring two police and a bystander, said Shankar Pandey, a regional administrator.
An explosion at a government education office at Morang, about 310 miles east of Katmandu, injured two teachers, a police official reached by telephone said. Another blast in the resort town of Pokhara hurt three bystanders, officials said. The town is 125 miles west of Katmandu.
The guerrillas, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting in 1996 to create a socialist state. The insurgency has claimed about 12,000 lives.