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Gun men


SHARAD KC in ACHHAM


Maoist leader let off a short burst from a captured M-16 and had just started on his speech at a school compound in Accham's Binayak village on 21 July when there was the sound of an approaching helicopter.

The leaders ran for cover, and so did the hundreds of people assembled at the school. From high above, the army's Indian-built Lancer attack helicopter let off a burst of machinegun fire. The farmers remember all too well a chopper attack on a similar meeting at the exact same spot on 12 April when six villagers were killed.

A Maoist aimed at the helicopter with his machinegun, but it was out of range. It hovered for a while longer, then flew away. As the meeting resumed, politburo member of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Janardan Sharma (alias Prabhakar) spoke into a loudspeaker: "We are in our final preparations to make an attack on the centre...we will capture Kathmandu, and then move on to seize New Delhi and Washington."

All present applauded and if there was disbelief, no one showed it. Later, some villagers told us, "Even the stones here are Maoist, so how can we defy them?" Guerrillas proudly posed for visiting Nepali and international journalists with guns captured from the army in Dadeldhura: M-16 A2s, SLRs and even a belt-ammo Belgian Minimi. A 20-year-old army defector, Lal Bahadur Magar, carried a satellite phone and was directing his men.

Present at the meeting was the Seti Mahakali Autonomous People's Government chief, Lekh Raj Bhatta, who announced the Maoists were also setting up their own 'unified command' to consolidate their strength.
At the army's Western Division Headquarters in Nepalganj, spokesman Yagya Raj Rajaure admitted that the army was aware of the Maoist meeting in Binayak. He told us: "We knew they were using the villagers as human shields and our helicopter only fired warning shots. We didn't want civilian casualties."

Photos from Accham
SHARAD KC


Maoist pretend to aim their captured M-16s for the benefit of visiting journalists at a gathering in Achham's Binayak village.


The Maoists have also set up their own 'unified command' to arm the general population. One such unit drills in Achham with mock wooden rifles.


A gathering in Achham's Binayak village, which was addressed by the head of the rebel's Far Western Regional Bureau, Prabhakar.


Head of the Maoists' 'Seti Mahakali Autonomous People's Government' speaking to the gathering.


The mass meeting in Binayak had just begun when a Lancer attack helicopter of the Royal Nepali Army hovered nearby and fired warning shots.


A soldier with an LMG looks at the army's helicopter hovering high above Binayak.


Maoist pretend to aim their captured M-16s, SLRs, INSAS and Minimi guns.


22-year-old Lal Bahadur Magar deserted his Royal Nepali Army unit in Bajura with is M-16 rifle. Seen here talking into a walkietalkie captured from the police.


Head of the Achham 'people's government', Sarad Singh Bhandari speaking into a satellite phone.


Prabhakar with his M-16 at the Maoist rally.


A Maoist militia displaying his AK-47 assault rifle, one of the few that the Maoist army now possesses.


A Maoist carrying the guerrilla's group's prized weapon,
the 81mm mortar captured from the army.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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