British authorities funded a four-year-long intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country's civil war, according to the author of a book on Kathmandu.
Launched in 2002, Operation Mustang targeted Maoist guerrillas and saw British intelligence agency MI6 fund safe houses and provide training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal's army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID), writer Thomas Bell said
Nepal's decade-long civil war left more than 16,000 dead, with both sides accused of serious human rights violations including killings, rapes, torture and disappearances.
"According to senior Nepalese intelligence and army officials involved in the operation, British aid greatly strengthened their performance and led to about 100 arrests," said Bell, whose book, Kathmandu, will be on sale on Thursday.
"It's difficult to put an exact number on it, but certainly some of those who were arrested were tortured and disappeared."
Maoist commander Sadhuram Devkota, known as Prashant, was among those captured during Operation Mustang in November 2004.
Six weeks later, he was found hanging from a low window in his cell, with officials saying he committed suicide. No independent investigation was carried out.
Bell spent about a year interviewing some 20 highly placed sources to corroborate the details of the operation, and said a senior Western official told him the operation was cleared by Britain's Foreign Office.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on intelligence matters but, as we have repeatedly made clear, the UK does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.
The British-born writer covered Nepal's civil war from 2002 to 2007, freelancing for the South China Morning Post before moving to Bangkok for a two-year stint as The Daily Telegraph's Southeast Asia correspondent.