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Ex-rebels in Nepal hand over arms

January 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

KATMANDU, NEPAL — Nepal's former communist guerrillas began handing over weapons to U.N. monitors Wednesday under a landmark peace deal calling for thousands of fighters to disarm and stay in camps, officials said.

United Nations monitors began registering the ex-fighters and their weapons at a camp in Chitwan, about 100 miles southwest of the capital, Katmandu, said a spokesman for the rebel unit there.

The spokesman, who goes by the single name Abiral, said by telephone that the process was going smoothly.

A U.N. official involved in the process said the former rebels lined up and handed the monitors documents that contained details about themselves and their weapons.

The weapons were then stored in large metal shipping containers brought in from neighboring India, said the U.N. official, who said it was policy to speak on condition of anonymity.

The weapons and most of the former fighters will be confined to seven main camps. Some, however, will be housed in 21 smaller camps across the Himalayan nation.

The U.N. official said it was unclear how long the process would take.

These former rebels are to be confined to the United Nations-supervised camps until an election this year for a special assembly, which will write a new constitution and decide on the ex-fighters' future.

The Maoists entered mainstream politics for the first time Monday, when 83 former guerrillas were sworn in to Nepal's 330-seat interim parliament.

The former guerrillas are now the second-largest group in the legislature.

The Maoist guerrillas had fought to end the impoverished Himalayan country's monarchy in a decade-long rebellion that left 13,000 people dead.

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