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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02KATHMANDU278
2002-02-05 13:03:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

MAOISTS KILL 16 POLICE; CALL FOR NATIONWIDE

Tags:   NP  PTER  PGOV  CASC  ASEC 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000278 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SA/INS AND DS/OP/NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: NP PTER PGOV CASC ASEC
SUBJECT: MAOISTS KILL 16 POLICE; CALL FOR NATIONWIDE
STRIKE

REF(S): (A) KATHMANDU 0184; (B) 01 KATHMANDU 2388

-----------
SUMMARY
-----------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000278

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SA/INS AND DS/OP/NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: NEPAL'>NP PTER PGOV CASC ASEC
SUBJECT: MAOISTS KILL 16 POLICE; CALL FOR NATIONWIDE
STRIKE

REF(S): (A) KATHMANDU 0184; (B) 01 KATHMANDU 2388

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (SBU) Maoist insurgents continued their attacks
against police with a deadly assault on a police post in
Kavre District the morning of February 5. On February 4
Maoists also attacked an airport and guest house in the
popular tourist area of Lukla, Solukhumbu District,
causing property damage but no injuries. To celebrate
the seventh anniversary of the insurgency February 13,
the Maoist leadership has called for a series of local
strikes (bandhs) across the country, culminating in a
nationwide bandh February 22-23. End summary.

--------------
ANNIVERSARY PREPARATIONS
--------------


2. (U) Maoist violence--especially against the police-
-is increasing as the February 13 date marking the
seventh anniversary of the Maoist insurgency approaches.
The Maoists' number-two leader, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
(who has appended a new title--Coordinator of the United
Revolutionary People's Council--to his official
communications) has called for a series of local strikes
(bandhs) across the country from Feb. 7-21, culminating
in a nationwide bandh Feb. 22-23 in honor of the
anniversary.

--------------
POLICE TARGETED AGAIN
--------------


3. (SBU) Although attacks against civilians in remote
areas continue, the Maoists appear once again to be
targeting police. In addition to the eight policemen
killed in two separate attacks Jan. 23 and 28 (Ref A),
two more policemen were killed in a targeted landmine
explosion on a major highway near Pokhara January 31.
In the single most lethal attack against security forces
since the imposition of the state of emergency November
26, in the early morning hours of February 5 insurgents
attacked a police post along the highway in Bhankunde,
Kavre District, approximately 50 km south of Kathmandu.
After killing 16 policemen and injuring 4, the Maoists
carted away 39 rifles, 4 shotguns, and 10 pistols. The
attack apparently lasted several hours (from 1:00 a.m.
to 5:00 a.m., according to one report); there were no

reports of Maoist casualties. Despite the ferocity of
the assault and its proximity to Kathmandu, the local
press--both vernacular and English--carried no stories
of the attack.


4. (SBU) The police post is located directly in front
of a project camp for NEPALi laborers and staff building
a new highway funded by the Japanese government.
According to a Japanese embassy official, the Maoists
made no attempt to enter the project site or to take any
equipment from the site. (Note: Japanese project staff
live in Dhulikhel and were not present at the time of
the attack. End note.) The Japanese Embassy views the
incident as an attack against the police, rather than
the project, and intends to continue work on the road.

--------------
GROUNDED IN LUKLA
--------------


5. (U) Maoists also set off a small pressure cooker
bomb at the airport in Lukla, Solukhumbu District, at
about 11:00 p.m. February 4, blasting out several
windows and slightly damaging a tower. A similar bomb
exploded at a guest house in the town. No injuries were
reported as a result of either blast. The timing of the
attacks appears to have been designed to avoid
casualties.


6. (SBU) According to the Flight Operations Director
at Lukla Airport, airport staff had been receiving
threats for several days leading up to the attack and
had closed down the airport Feb. 2, pending the arrival
of Royal NEPAL Army (RNA) troops to protect the
facility. Airport staff confirmed helicopter-borne RNA
troops arrived the afternoon of Feb. 5--after the attack-
-and said flights out of Lukla will most likely resume
Feb. 6. (Note: With an airport as the entry point for
most tourists to the Mount Everest Base Camp, Lukla is a
popular tourist destination, although it sees little
tourist traffic at this time of year. End note.) The
Consular section has received no requests for assistance
from Amcits, although we understand that at least one
American may be in Lukla.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


7. (SBU) The Maoists are stepping up their violent
activities just as Parliament is preparing to consider
an extension of the emergency. The nationwide bandh the
Maoists had called for December 7 fizzled (Ref B);
whether the Feb. 22-23 bandh will be a similar non-event
remains to be seen. With or without a strike, however,
the Maoists are increasing their pressure on the
government in the run-up to the anniversary of the
movement. The police have long borne the brunt of the
Maoists' campaign against the government. During the
first ten months of 2001 the Maoists killed twice as
many police as in the previous year, while the number of
Maoists killed by police fell by almost 50 percent from
2000 levels. Maoist violence against security forces
declined sharply after the imposition of the emergency
and deployment of the RNA November 26. The recent
uptick in violence against police--and the resumption of
the time-tested tactic of overrunning police posts and
making off with the arsenal--suggests that the Maoists
may have rethought the wisdom of taking on the RNA. To
celebrate their anniversary, the insurgents seem to be
once again focusing their efforts on their habitual,
tried-and-true targets--the police--with disturbing
success so far. The Embassy will continue to monitor
the situation as more information--including whether
flights from Lukla resume Feb. 6 as planned--becomes
available.

Malinowski