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Nepalese general killed by rebels

Nepal had beefed up security amid fears of Maoist rebel attacks.
Nepal had beefed up security amid fears of Maoist rebel attacks.

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KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- A Nepalese general, whose family had close ties with Nepal's royal family, has been killed in a Maoist ambush, officials said.

Brig. Gen. Sagar Bahadur Pandey, his wife and two bodyguards died Saturday when an army jeep ran into a landmine near Bhim Phedi, about 190 kilometers south of Kathmandu, a senior police officer said.

Twelve other army personnel following them in a separate vehicle were wounded in the ambush, which took place at 3:30 p.m. (0915 GMT) Saturday, the officer said.

Royal Nepal Army spokesman Col. Deepak Gurung said that the "facts were still sketchy" but confirmed the general's death.

Pandey is the most senior army officer to have been targeted by the Maoists, who want to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy by a republic. They consider Nepal's monarchy regressive and feudalistic.

Since the peace talks between the rebels and the government collapsed in August, the Maoists have made assassination bids on three senior army officers.

Two of them, including Pandey, have died while a third one had a close call. Analysts say Gen. Pandey's death could be a Maoist response to the royalist government, which has in recent weeks gone on major military offensive against the rebels.

-- Journalist Akhilesh Upadhyay in Kathmandu contributed to this report

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