KAILALI-The center of attraction during the celebration of International Women's Day by the Maoists was their sub-company commander, Asha Bista who was sporting an AK-47. "This is part of our effort to make up 50 percent of the army ranks with women, our women are capable of using AK-47s and other weapons in future." Asha Bista herself had her assault rifle slung across her shoulder (pictured) and said: "This is what will allow us to defeat the state's M-16s, we are forced to carry arms like these to liberate women. Nepali women will not be freed by talking nonsense in five-star hotels in Kathmandu." The Maoists marked women's day with a drill on the Mahendra Highway and out of the 150 male guerrillas 60 were women. Six of them had AK-47s. The program came to an end at five in the evening with another march past. Asha Bista had a message for visiting journalists: "This rifle is my jewelry, you hurry along to your housewives, we have to return to our bunkers and carry on our liberation struggle."