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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02KATHMANDU379 2002-02-18 10:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

REVISED CASUALTY ESTIMATES FOR ACHHAM AS

Tags:   PTER PGOV NP 
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					  UNCLAS KATHMANDU 000379 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SA/INS AND DS/OP/NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV NP
SUBJECT: REVISED CASUALTY ESTIMATES FOR ACHHAM AS
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON EMERGENCY STALLS

REF(S): (A) KATHMANDU 0377; (B) KATHMANDU 0333

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



1. (SBU) Revised casualty estimates for the Maoists'
Feb. 17 attacks on an airport and district headquarters
in Achham indicate that nearly 130 were killed, most of
them security forces. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
was expected to address Parliament the morning of Feb.
18, beginning debate on the ratification of the state of
national emergency declared Nov. 26. The session was
temporarily suspended, however, after Opposition MPs
interrupted the Home Minister's report on the Achham
incident. End summary.



--------------------------


CIVILIAN CASUALTIES REVISED DOWNWARD


--------------------------





2. (U) Initial civilian casualty estimates for the
deadly Feb. 17 attacks on the airport, district
headquarters, police station, and Royal Nepal Army (RNA)
barracks in Achham in western Nepal (Ref A) have been
revised sharply downward. Information to date indicates
that only five civilians--the Chief District Officer,
the local head of the National Investigation Department
and his wife, the postmaster, and a photographer--were
killed in the midnight assault on the district
headquarters. The number of RNA killed stands at 48,
including a captain and a lieutenant, while the number
of police casualties is estimated at 76 (49 at the
police station in Mangalsen and 27 at the airport).
(Note: Ministry of Defense tallies do not include the
police casualties at the airport. End note.) Casualty
figures for the Maoists are unavailable, although the
RNA has reported finding only three bodies of suspected
Maoists at Mangalsen.



3. (U) Besides attacking the District Administration
Office, prison, army barracks, and police station and
robbing a bank at Mangalsen, the insurgents also set
fire to the post office, the tax office, forestry and
livestock offices, and the Nepal Telecommunications
Office. Communications to the district have been cut
off since 3:00 a.m. Feb. 17.



--------------------------


PARLIAMENTARY SESSION SUSPENDED


--------------------------





4. (SBU) PM Deuba was expected to address Parliament at
11:00 a.m. on Feb. 18 at a session originally scheduled
for debate on ratification of the three-month-old state
of emergency (Ref B). However, when Home Minister Khum
Bahadur Khadka rose first to report on the Achham
incidents, he was immediately shouted down by Opposition
MPs clamoring for the PM to address the session instead.
Parliament was suspended after 45 minutes of chaos
(including, by some accounts, benches being tossed
around), until 3:00 p.m. As of 4:00 p.m., however, the
session had not resumed, with the Government of Nepal
(GON) apparently resisting Opposition pressure to have
the PM, rather than the Home Minister, speak about the
bloody attacks. The session may resume after 5:00 p.m.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Even with the revised casualty numbers, the
attacks in Achham still stand as the bloodiest in the
six years of the Maoist insurgency. If the Maoists
meant to put pressure on Deuba just as debate on the
emergency was set to resume, they seem to have
succeeded. That Nepal's Parliamentarians could not
overcome their personal political rivalries long enough
to allow serious, reasoned debate of this national
emergency is disturbing, but not surprising. If the
squabbling in Parliament succeeds in postponing debate
on the emergency much longer, the Maoists will have won
yet another victory--but this time without having to
fire a single shot.

Malinowski