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Nepal crackdown kills 240 rebels

More than 2,500 people have been kiled since Maoist rebels launched their campaign
More than 2,500 people have been kiled since Maoist rebels launched their campaign  

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Nepal's government has said that as many as 240 Maoist rebels were killed in a raid on two training camps in the western part of this Himalayan kingdom.

A Nepalese government minister said on Saturday that nearly 240 rebels were killed late Thursday in operations on two camps in the Maoist hotbeds of Doti and Rolpa districts.

Drawing their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, the Maoist rebels have been fighting a drawn-out campaign to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy.

In six years of battles, more than 2,500 people have been killed.

In November the government imposed a state of emergency and ordered the army to crush the guerrilla insurgency. It has intensified its attacks after the rebels called for a nationwide strike last week that did not get much public support.

Nepal's Maoist rebellion 

The heavy casualties came as top rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal called for renewed peace talks with the government to find "a positive political way out" of the problem.

But Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba rejected the peace overture Friday.

"There will be no peace negotiations until the Maoists lay down their arms and surrender," he said.

The government of Nepal had asked for international assistance to crack down on the rebels.

About a dozen U.S. military personnel visited Nepal in late April to assess how to spend U.S. funds to fight the Maoist insurgents, according to the Pentagon.

The United States has offered $20 million in aid from the State Department.

-- Journalist Suman Pradhan contributed to this report





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