KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Nepal's king declared a state of emergency Monday after weekend attacks by rebels killed at least 76 soldiers and police, the palace said.
King Gyanendra accepted a Cabinet recommendation that allows the government to deploy the army for the first time in hunting down rebels fighting to establish a socialist state.
Previously, the military was limited to defending Nepal from foreign attack, and police were used to fight the rebels.
The recommendation comes in the wake of a guerrilla attack Sunday night that killed five soldiers, 28 police officers and the chief district officer in Solukhumbu, 125 miles north of Katmandu, Interior Security Minister Khum Bahadur Khadka said.
The rebels also suffered heavy casualties, Khadka said.
A total of 76 soldiers, police and government officials have been killed since Friday, when rebels broke off a four-month cease-fire and launched assaults across the Himalayan kingdom.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's Cabinet decided during an emergency session Monday to seek a state of emergency, Water Resources Minister Bijaya Gachchedar said.
Airports and borders will remain open and government offices will function as normal but security will be tightened across the nation, Khadka said.
The military and the armed police were being mobilized to comb rebel hide-outs, concentrated mostly in the remote hills of midwest Nepal.
The Maoist guerrillas fashion themselves after Peru's Shining Path guerrillas and draw their name from China's revolutionary communist leader Mao Tse-tung.
The rebels are seeking an end to the constitutional monarchy and the creation of a socialist republic.
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