Rebels Write Receipts in Robbery

The Associated Press
Saturday April 20, 2002

KATMANDU, Nepal — Having just finished breakfast, a team of mountaineers in Nepal were robbed by Maoist rebels who allowed their victims to bargain over the amount to be stolen and then wrote out receipts. 

This account of the April 5 incident was given by climber Raymond Coughron, an energy management consultant from Berkeley, California, on the Web site Everest News on Friday. 

It was the first reported case in which mountaineers have been robbed by the rebels — who draw their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung — since they began their violent campaign in 1996. 

Coughron was quoted as saying that, initially, the guerrillas demanded $64 plus cameras, binoculars and altimeters. 

However, after some discussion they settled for $128 per member, but none of their gear. 

The report said climbers from two other mountaineering teams were also robbed and forced to hand over the same amount of cash by the rebels. 

"After our expedition paid and were given a receipt for money received, the Maoists went to the Swiss expedition and repeated the exercise. The Spanish expedition were approached the night before," Coughron said. 

He said the guerrillas were armed with grenades and an automatic rifle. 

“It was clear that these five Maoists were not alone. In the surrounding forests many hundreds of their comrades could be seen," Coughron added. 

The incident happened while the team was on its way to a base camp on Mount Makalu, the world's fifth-tallest peak at 27,760 feet.