By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu
Maoist rebels in Nepal have said they are willing to begin a dialogue with the government.
A senior leader of the underground Maoist Communist Party, Pranchanda, urged Nepalese political parties to help create a proper atmosphere for talks. His statement came a day after a fierce rebel attack killed 14 policemen and injured 40 others in a remote hill district.
It was the worst such attack on government targets in more than four years.
The authorities have not responded to the rebels' call for talks.
Mr Prachanda warned that the rebels would continue to fight against what he described as police repression. The rebels had earlier demanded that the government stop police action and release arrested Maoist workers.
They also want information about rebels who are alleged to have disappeared in police custody.
But the government insists that the rebels give up violence first.
Human rights organisations and international donors such as Amnesty International and the European Union have urged both sides to immediately start a dialogue. But with the two sides suspecting each other's intention, no peace talks have been initiated yet. The government last week announced that it was intensifying police action against the rebels.
The rebels responded by launching their fiercest attack ever on Monday, on a district administrative centre of the north western hill district, Dolpa.
They robbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and jewellery from a local bank and freed 17 prisoners from the local jail. They are also alleged to have abducted a dozen security guards. The attack prompted the government to beef up security across the country.
Analysts say the attack could have been a tactical move to put pressure on the government to start talks. The rebels could then sit at the negotiating table from a position of strength, the analysts said.
More than 1,400 people have died since the Maoist insurgency started in early 1996, with the aim of replacing the constitutional monarchy with a communiist republic.
Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
It comes a day after the outlawed Maoist Communist Party renewed its call for talks with the government. On Monday, fourteen officers were killed by guerrillas in the north-western district of
Fourteen prisoners set free from a nearby jail by the rebels during the attack have surrendered.
The authorities say twelve security guards are still missing: they've accused the guerrillas of abducting them.
From the newsroom of the BBC
Excerpts from BBC website-HRPWN