updated 12/7/2007 2:18:41 PM ET 2007-12-07T19:18:41

A Swiss tourist trekking in the mountains of Nepal claims he was beaten up by former rebels when he refused to give them money, officials said Friday.

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Steve Jeanneret, 31, has filed a case with the authorities, claiming the attack took place while trekking on the popular route to the base of Mount Annapurna, said Bhola Prasad Siwakoti, the chief government administrator in the area.

Siwakoti said the Swiss trekker reported he was beaten by three ex-rebels, widely known as Maoists, on Wednesday.

He managed to escape and reached the resort town of Pokhara, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Katmandu, where he was treated for wounds on his head, face and neck.

Jeanneret, who has been resting at a hotel in Pokhara, said he was approached by three Maoists and attacked by two of them with wooden sticks when he refused their demand to pay a tax.

"They came after me saying they want to kill me," he said, as he showed reporters bruises on his head, neck and legs.

Police official Bhoj Raj Ojha said they had detained two Maoists and were questioning them over the attack. They could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.

It is common for Maoists to charge money from foreign trekkers. They see the demands as donations, despite Maoist leaders saying they have ordered their activists to stop all forms of extortion and only accept "voluntary donations."

This was the first reported beating of a foreigner during this tourist season, which began in September. Autumn is considered favorable for trekking and thousands of Western hikers make their way to the mountains during this period.

The Maoists gave up 10-year armed revolt last year to join the peace process. They joined mainstream politics earlier this year but they have been blamed for continue violence even after joining peace process.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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