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Maoist clashes disrupt Everest
12:39 p.m. EST Mar 30, 2004
New Zealand has issued a travel advisory for Nepal. The foreign ministry has advised Kiwis to avoid any non-essential travel to the embattled nation. The reason: Maoist rebels targeting public places and tourist centers.

The Maoists’ campaign for a communist republic in Nepal has claimed more than 9,500 lives since 1996, and violence has increased in recent weeks.

New Zealand's mountaineer Edmund Hillary is expected to arrive in Nepal next month to visit Kathmandu in connection with the Himalayan Trust, the organization he founded to help Sherpas. Hillary was quoted as saying last year that Nepal was still a safe destination for mountaineers.

The warning was followed by reports in the local media Tuesday, saying Maoists had torched a passenger bus in the western region for not heeding a two-day transport strike called by them.

This year a Norwegian team that headed for Mt Makalu mentioned in its daily dispatches that it was expecting to run into the Maoists. The Irish Everest 2004 expedition reported seeing a strong presence of Nepali military as they trek to BC.

The Maoist rebel insurgency began in 1996 with the goal of replacing the constitutional monarchy with a single-party system. This month saw one of the bloodiest clashes between Nepali troops and the rebels; roughly 500 rebels died. Since the fighting began nearly 9,500 people have died. The rebels are known to treat westerners better than the local population, this however may mean little as there are many reports that show brutal, vicious, and immoral attacks on the Nepali people.

Live image of Nepali soldiers provided by Contact 2.0. Courtesy of IrishEverest2004.com

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