KATHMANDU, April 6: A fierce attack on a town by Nepal’s Maoist rebels left 22 people dead on Wednesday night. The Maoists’ attack on Malangwa town, 350kms southeast of Kathmandu, took the security forces by surprise. The rebels fired at soldiers guarding government offices and security posts and attacked a jail, freeing more than 100 inmates — among them some of their comrades — before fleeing.
Six policemen, six guerillas and two civilians were killed in the fighting. Some policemen and senior bureaucrats were taken hostage.
An army helicopter sent to the area with troops crashed near Malangwa, killing eight of the 10 soldiers on board, an army official said. The fate of the other two was not known.
The Maoists claimed rebels had shot down the helicopter, but the army said the cause of the crash was being investigated.
“I saw the helicopter broken into three pieces in a field. Many government buildings are on fire or are smouldering. Unexploded bombs are strewn around,” local journalist Rajesh Mishra said. “People are terror-struck. No one has come out.”