Nepal government warns of use of force against armed rebel groups

Kathmandu_(dpa) _ Nepal's government has warned dozens of armed rebels groups to take up the offer of peace talks or face the consequences, media reports said Wednesday.

Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam said the government would use force to disarm the rebel groups if they do not take up the offer of peace talks, Kantipur newspaper reported.

The warning came less than a month after the government invited dozens of rebel groups in southern and eastern Nepal to start negotiations to end violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in the past two years.

"Most of the groups involved in agitation in southern Nepal are violent," the newspaper quoted Gautam as saying. "The government will use force to disarm the groups if they ignore invitation for talks."

Gautam also alleged the groups of seeking refuge across the border in India to carry out violent activities in Nepal.

"We will do everything possible to restore peace and uphold law across the country," Gautam said.

Earlier this week, the government said about half a dozen rebel groups in southern and eastern Nepal had accepted the offer of talks. However, major armed groups still had not made a commitment to attend.

Many of the armed groups have roots with the Maoist movement in Nepal, but split into minor groups after the Maoist signed a formal peace deal with the government in November 2006.

The government says the rebel groups are involved in extortion, kidnapping and murder of government employees across southern Nepal.

The government warning also coincided with a report by Nepal's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which said the security situation in southern Nepal had worsened during the past year.

According to the NHRC, more than 270 people died in violence blamed on rebel groups and security forces in southern Nepal in the past year. dpa kr pw


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