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Nepal: 'Maoists forcibly recruiting child soldiers'

Source: PTI
March 17, 2006 20:58 IST
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Nepal's Maoist guerrrilas have been forcibly recruiting child soldiers, an international human rights group said Friday, while also voicing concern over the army bombing from choppers during clashes and the government's alleged sponsoring of anti-rebel vigilante groups.

"Civil war has engulfed almost every district" in Nepal, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which undertook a three-week-long fact-finding tour in the country, said in Kathmandu.

Sam Zia Zarifi, research director of HRW's Asia division, said both Nepali security forces and the Maoists have behaved according to international humanitarian laws to some extent.

"But terror and impact on civilian lives is quite high," Zarifi said.

According to the HRW team, the Maoists were found seeking shelter in and launching attacks from civilian areas.

Similarly, the Royal Nepalese Army was found dropping explosives and 81 mm mortars from helicopters during clashes.

"Dropping of mortars is indiscriminate and has added to civilian casualties," claimed Zarifi.

They met 16 Maoist cadres who were above 18 years, but recruited while they were children, said researcher Anna Neistat.

"The Maoists' claim that they don't recruit children as guerrillas is simply not true," she was quoted as saying by

The HRW probe team said most of the children from the far-western region were forcibly recruited.

Many were abducted from schools and some of them were forced to stay back, the group said adding, the kidnappings went up during the four-month-long unilateral ceasefire declared by the rebels.

The rights body also expressed concern about, what they called, the government's alleged sponsoring of anti-Maoist vigilante groups, which "operate outside the law".

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