Maoists threat to US security: Armitage

Mercantile Communications Pvt. Ltd.

Kathmandu, Saturday November 01, 2003


The United States on Friday declared the insurgent Maoist Communist Party of Nepal to be a threat to US national security and froze the group's assets as part of package of sanctions.

Immediately after the determination was made public, the US embassy in Kathmandu issued a new security warning, advising Americans in Nepal to keep a low profile and exercise special caution "during the upcoming time period."

"This announcement is issued to alert American citizens in Nepal concerning the possibility of an increased threat to Americans and American-affiliated organizations from Maoist insurgents in the coming days," the embassy said in a notice to US citizens. The notice did not say why the threat might be heightened but a copy of it was provided to AFP in Washington by the State Department shortly after the publication of Friday's Federal Register, which contained the determination about the Maoists.

"I hereby determine that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) ... has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in the notice.

The determination was made the designation amid a spike in fighting between Nepalese troops and Maoist rebels, who want to overthrow the country's constitutional monarchy.

The notice listed several aliases for the organization including the United Revolutionary People's Council, the People's Liberation Army of Nepal and the CPN(M), all of which are covered by the sanctions.

Nepal's Maoist rebels ended a seven-month ceasefire August 27 after peace talks broke down, setting off the latest surge in fighting in which one human rights group said 1,092 people had died.

Nepalese authorities have accused the Maoists of stepping up extortion since the end of the truce, driving some villagers to suicide. Overall tolls from violence in the Himalayan kingdom are often difficult to verify independently as the clashes occur in remote areas but the government says the seven-year-old insurgency has claimed more than 8,200 lives.

Human rights groups put the toll closer to 8,900.

The United States has grown increasingly concerned about the situation in Nepal and issues frequent travel warnings advising US citizens to take special precautions while there or to avoid going at all.

Washington has offered counter-terrorism assistance to Kathmandu to assist in battling the insurgents but has also expressed concern about reports of government abuses.

The Maoists said on Monday that Americans would be safe in Nepal as long as they did not assist Nepal's military although they are held responsible for the murders of two Nepalese guards at the US embassy and have threatened foreign missions in Kathmandu.

They have also targetted US symbols, bombing Coca-Cola bottling plants in April and January 2002 and in November 2001, according to the State Department's latest "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report released in April.


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