Nepal protestors defy ban, 22 killed in raid | india | Hindustan Times
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Nepal protestors defy ban, 22 killed in raid

Police fired tear gas to break up stone-throwing anti-monarchy protestors in Nepal on Thursday after a fierce overnight attack on a town by Maoist rebels left 22 people dead, witnesses and authorities said.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 22:57 IST

Police fired tear gas to break up stone-throwing anti-monarchy protestors in Nepal on Thursday after a fierce overnight attack on a town by Maoist rebels left 22 people dead, witnesses and authorities said.

The demonstrations came on the first day of a four-day nationwide strike called by the Himalayan nation's seven main political parties against King Gyanendra's absolute rule.

Activists in the ancient temple town of Lalitpur, neighbouring Kathmandu, as well as in Kalanki, an area on the outskirts of the capital, took to the streets in defiance of a government ban on protests.

"Gyanendra leave the country", "Monarchy is falling, the people are rising", the protestors, a few hundred youths, shouted as they marched through the narrow, winding streets of Lalitpur.

Some carried red flags of communist parties and one had an image of Argentine guerrilla leader and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, which they waved at riot police before hurling bricks at them.

In Kalanki, tear gas was fired at hundreds of protestors who had gathered at a major intersection shouting slogans against the king and hurling stones at security forces, police said.

The Maoist rebels, who have been fighting for the last decade to topple the monarchy and establish a communist state, support the political groups as part of a pact against the king. But they are not joining the protests.

Hours before the nationwide strike began, rebels struck Malangwa town, 350 km southeast of Kathmandu.

They fired at soldiers guarding government offices and security posts and attacked a jail, freeing more than 100 inmates — among them some of their comrades — before fleeing.

Six policemen, six guerrillas and two civilians were killed in the fighting, police said. Some policemen and senior bureaucrats were taken hostage, they added.

An army helicopter sent to the area with troops crashed near Malangwa, killing eight of the 10 soldiers on board, an army officer said. The fate of the other two was not known.

The Maoists said rebels shot down the helicopter, but the army said the cause of the crash was being investigated.

The strike left roads elsewhere across the country of 26 million people deserted, and businesses and schools were shut.