(photo credit: )
Communist rebels battled security forces in a mountainous town of northern Nepal early Monday while political activists in the capital planned a massive new anti-monarchy rally.
The capital, Katmandu, was placed under its fifth consecutive day curfew on Monday, following nearly three weeks of demonstrations in which police have clashed with protesters demanding that King Gyanendra relinquish power he seized 14 months ago.
Rebels attacked security bases and government buildings overnight in the north-central town of Chautara, sparking gunbattles that lasted into Monday morning, a local official said.
The attackers knocked down the town's telecommunication tower, severing communications, and raided an army base, police post, the district administration office and the local jail, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized speak to the media.
The government imposed a 11 a.m.-6 p.m. curfew in Katmandu and Lalitpur.
Opposition parties said they planned only small gatherings for Monday ahead of a massive anti-king protest set to take place the next day on the ring road that circles Katmandu. An opposition alliance statement issued Sunday said hundreds of thousands of supporters are expected to attend Tuesday's rally.
The ring road has drawn gatherings of more than 100,000 protesters since the alliance - backed by the Himalayan kingdom's communist rebels - launched a general strike on April 6, even though the road falls within the curfew zone.
Clashes there between police and protesters on Sunday left at least three protesters injured. Security forces have killed at least 14 protesters since the strike began against Gyanendra, who seized power 14 months ago.
Protesters who tried to cross the road on the eastern edge of Katmandu on Sunday were beaten back by police who first fired tear gas, then rubber bullets, independent Kantipur television reported.
Doctors at a hospital said they treated three people injured by rubber bullets.