UNMIN team interviews 550 more PLA soldiers

Damak, June 20:

The team of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) verifying soldiers of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) today interviewed another 550 combatants. The interviews are part of the second phase of verification at the PLA’s first division headquarters at Chulachuli in Ilam.

The UN team comprising 120 members and led by Mike Tuman started today’s interview at the Danabari camp in the morning. Yesterday, the team interviewed over 150 Maoist combatants.

Trucks full of PLA personnel were taken to the divisional headquarters from the PLA’s brigade at Danabari for the verification. The team asked the combatants when they were recruited, how old they were now, the number of battles they fought, places where the battles took place and the knowledge of handling firearms, sources said.

Chief of the UN-chaired Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee (JMCC) Jan Erik Wilhemson and Maoist deputy commanders Baldev and Pasang are monitoring the verification process.

“The verification process will conclude in four days at Chulachuli,” said co-commander of the Chulachuli division headquarters Pawel. After verification there, the UN team will move to the Sindhuli-based PLA headquarters, sources said. Mediapersons were not allowed inside the camps yesterday and today as well.

Ban welcomes verification process:

Kathmandu: Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, today welcomed the beginning of the verification of Maoist combatants. “This is a crucial stage in the implementation of the Agreement on Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies,” Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York yesterday. The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) will verify the details of each registered personnel of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army to ensure that they have attained the age of 18 years before May 25, 2006 and that they joined the Maoist army before this date. — HNS