From A World to Win News Service

Maoists Temporarily Seize District Capital in Western Nepal

Revolutionary Worker #1236, April 11, 2004, posted at

We received the following article from A World to Win News Service:

March 29, 2004. A World to Win News Service.In heavy fighting, the Western Division of the People's Liberation Army attacked and seized Beni, capital of Myagdi district in Western Nepal, for 13 hours on March 20-21. This successful assault on a police post and army barracks 300 kilometers west of Kathmandu came three weeks after the PLA Eastern Division won a similar battle in Bhojpur, an eastern district capital.

The city was guarded by about a thousand men of the Royal Army's Kaliprasad Battalion, according to an initial account, about half of them in the barracks and the rest on patrol. About 150 were wiped out in the fighting. Hundreds more are thought to have surrendered. The rebels were reported to be holding about three dozen political and military officials after the battle. The PLA forces led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) also seized some 130 modern weapons and 50,000 rounds of bullets.

The attack that began at around 11 p.m. local time quickly destroyed the District Administrative Office, District Police Office, and District Development Office. The jail was broken into and all political prisoners released. Rebel soldiers also took over the National Development Bank office and seized all the wealth. All weapons of the police and army at the District Police Office were seized. By midnight, the Royal Army's Kaliprasad Battalion was attacked and, according to the KSS Maoist news service, the outer circle of the barracks was destroyed. The battle went on until about noon the next day. PLA soldiers firing rifles from the hills surrounding the town blocked attempts to land reinforcements by helicopter. One copter was hit and forced down. The army barracks, the district police headquarters, the District Chief Officer's headquarters and the District Development Office were in flames. According to the Nepali press, people from all around Beni came to chant slogans, sing revolutionary songs and dance together to enjoy the victory.

By 3 p.m. on March 21, when the Maoist-led revolutionaries had left the battlefield, seven Royal Army helicopters were hovering in the skies around the city and bombing surrounding villages. Three local people were killed by the bombardment. The news of the successful attack was carried by Maoist FM radio in the Salyan district. People in Baglung district 15 kilometers away were also very happy to hear about this major assault on an enemy camp.

At a press conference held in Kathmandu that evening, the Royal Army claimed to have killed 500 Maoists and wounded more than 200 others in the battle, with only 18 losses on their side. Many journalists present expressed disbelief. Almost all Nepali newspapers published the next day cast doubt and even ridicule on this claim. In the following days, the monarchical government's Home Ministry and Royal Army headquarters in the capital warned the media not to put out any information beyond that provided by the Army.

That same evening of March 21, CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda issued a statement with the facts of the battle. He also said, "This second qualitatively successful action immediately after the centralized action of Bhojpur sometime ago has forcefully refuted false propaganda spread by the enemy [about the weakening of the Maoists' military strength] and forcefully proved the development and invincibility of the people's war¬ Through decentralized actions throughout the country and these series of latest actions, the People's Liberation Army has established its military supremacy over the hoodlum Royal Army. Until the achievement of a forward-looking political solution along with complete changes, the series of military actions will continue."

The KSS news service reported that this victory came at the cost of the lives of 49 revolutionaries, including a PLA Brigade Vice Commander.

The political reaction of the regime and its supporters over the next few days betrayed a sense of desperation. The British Special Envoy to Nepal, Sir Jeffrey James, met with the leaders of the country's parliamentary political parties and called for them to unite with the king. The internal fighting embroiling Nepal's ruling classes has been particularly sharp since King Gyanendra dissolved parliament and took all power into his own hands last year. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher declared that the Maoists "should stop violence¬and resume talks with the government to find a political solution to the crisis." UN General Secretary Kofi Annan warned that no military solution to the conflict was possible. The monarchy has been claiming that it is on the verge of defeating the Maoists.

The CPN(M) has carried out talks with the government twice in the past and indicated a peaceful solution: the organization of a round-table conference, the formation of an interim government, and the election of a constituent assembly. It should be noted here that unlike the peace talks proposed by non- revolutionary armed organizations in some countries, the CPN(M)'s offer to negotiate is based on the mounting strength and preservation of the People's Liberation Army, the revolutionary base areas, and the revolutionary political consciousness of the broad masses of the Nepalese people. If the feudal monarchy and the backward-looking classes on which it is based continue to refuse to grant power to the people and let the people determine their fate, then as indicated in Chairman Prachanda's statement, the future Maoist strategic offensive of the eight-year-old people's war that is now being prepared will decide the question by force of arms.