Nepal calls for "international assistance'' to end conflict

Kathmandu (dpa) - Nepal's new government on Thursday called for international assistance to help end the conflict between Maoist rebels and the country's monarchy that has killed up to 12,000 people since 1996.
"Our friends - including India, Germany, the United States and Britain - must come to our aid,'' Deputy Prime Minister Kirti Nidhi Bista told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"We need every kind of help to bring this conflict to an end,'' said Bista, who criticised what he called the international community's "differentiation'' between Islamist terror groups such as al-Qaedea, and Nepal's Maoist rebels, who are fighting for the establishment of a communist state.

Many countries already supply arms and development aid to the Nepalese government. Bista however called for the deployment of a multinational force, a move that analysts say is highly unlikely.

The long-running conflict has escalated since King Gyanendra on February 1 sacked the government and assumed direct power, with scores killed and injured in the past week alone. Some 38 people died in a landmine attack on a civilian bus Monday.

Bista rejected international criticism of the king's actions saying that prior to the takeover the country had threatened to descend into "anarchy''. King Gyanendra has promised to provide peace and parliamentary elections within three years, Bista said.

Meanwhile, some 51 journalists were freed in Kathmandu Thursday after being detained by police the previous day.

The journalists were among a crowd of around 200 who had protested Wednesday against curbs on press freedom in Nepal. dpa cy sb ch


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