Australia condemns Maoist attacksHimalayan News ServiceKathmandu, April 12Australia roundly condemned the recent expansion of the Maoist campaign of attacks against civilian targets in Nepal, and called upon the Maoists to immediately cease these activities, lay down their arms and return to the negotiating table in order to join the political mainstream to resolve Nepal’s political and economic problems in partnership with other parties and groups.“The latest attacks can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to undermine the development of Nepal and the economic livelihood of its ordinary people,” Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister said in a statement on Friday.For some months, he said, communication facilities, repeater stations and the apparatus of local government have been targeted. Since the beginning of April, however, the attacks have widened to include the destruction of food storage facilities supplying food to the famine-hit regions of Humla and Jumla, hydroelectric power stations, drinking water reservoirs and pipelines in Okhaldhunga, water supply lines in Dailekh and three bridges on the road in Bardiya.“These attacks add to the pattern of Maoist violence against the people of Nepal that has included hostage taking, torture, execution and terrorising the general public in support of the Maoists political goals,” he said. “Australia has repeatedly condemned these acts and called for their immediate cessation.”“The latest attacks can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to undermine the development of Nepal and the economic livelihood of its ordinary people. As usual, it is the poor who suffer the most. The Maoists demonstrate disregard for civilian life and deprive the people of the most basic necessities such as food and water,” Dower said.