This month, the number of Nepalis killed by fellow-Nepalis since the Maoist war began eight years ago crossed the 10,000 mark.
The human rights organisation, INSEC, is the only independent organisation counting. But it lists only verified deaths, and there are thousands more undocumented cases. On 28 July, the count reached 9,996. A week later, it was 10,112. Of those killed, 268 are children under 17.
In 1996, when a total of 81 people were killed, the nation was shocked. The death toll rose exponentially after the army entered the fray in November 2001, as the Maoists started using heavy weapons they captured. Non-combatant casualties soared as counter-insurgency operations resulted in disappearances, extra-judicial killings and deaths in crossfire.
The worst total was in 2002, when 4,648 people were killed, nearly one-fourth of them in the bloody month of May alone.
The Maoists targeted civilians, grassroot politicians, social workers, businessmen and those accused of spying. INSEC says the Maoists have killed 3,469 people, while 6,643 have died at the hands of the security forces. Of the total, 4,141 were civilians, 1,478 were security personnel, about 400 were political workers and over 4,000 were Maoists.
The army admits 500 soldiers have died in the past eight years, and that 1,300 police have been killed. It says it has counted over 6,000 Maoist casualties in the past two years alone, not including an estimated 1,500 rebel dead carried away after major battles.
INSEC's figures show that nearly half the people killed since 1996 have died in the past two years, and most of them after the breakdown of the second ceasefire last August. At this rate the total number of those killed is expected to reach 15,000 by this time next year.
the past five months, 608 people have already died, 341 of them since the formation of the four-party coalition on 2 June. Jagadish Dahal of INSEC quotes field reports as saying that the army now has a take-no-prisoners policy. "Maoists and suspected Maoists are usually shot on the spot," he says.
INSEC's Human Rights Yearbook 2004 also contained graphic details of Maoist brutality: victims tortured, beheaded, dismembered, bones crushed and axed. Lately, the Maoists have started threatening and abducting some human rights activists and journalists in the midwest.
These tallies don't give the numbers of those maimed, disabled or hospitalised. They do not count the hundreds of thousands of Nepali who have lost loved ones. No one has an estimate on how many millions have been forced to leave their homes.