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Terai rebels abduct official, kill ex-worker

A band of former Maoists abducted Jagannath Saha, a senior municipal official, from Jankinagar town in south Nepal.

world Updated: Jul 20, 2007 11:29 IST

Making a mockery of the government's pledge to provide security to its employees in the Terai plains after a nationwide backlash following the brutal killing of a municipal official, Nepal's rebels abducted another official on Thursday night and killed a former employee.

A band of former Maoists led by Jay Krishna Goit, once one of the top Maoist leader from the plains, on Thursday abducted Jagannath Saha, a senior municipal official, from Jankinagar town in south Nepal.

The abduction came on a day municipal offices had closed nationwide to protest against the brutal murder of Ram Hari Pokhrel, a senior official in Siraha district.

Pokhrel was abducted on Sunday by another faction of former Maoists, the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by Jwala Singh, for not paying "tax" to it.

The rebels killed Pokhrel by slitting his throat on Wednesday morning.

Pokhrel's death took the toll of government officials killed in the turbulent Terai region since March to seven.

As the rift between Nepal's hill and plains communities deepens in the Terai, Jwala Singh has given the government an ultimatum - to withdraw all officials belonging to the hill community from the plains within a week or face "dire consequences".

In Saptari district and Raj Biraj town in Terai, courts remained closed on Thursday to condemn Pokhrel's killing.

Government officials have begun a fearful exodus from the Terai, which has become the centre of new violence since January, with over 100 people having been killed.

Though the eight-party ruling alliance on Thursday said that government officials would have an armed guard in order to stem the panic, it has had little deterrent effect on the armed groups.

On Wednesday night, an unidentified group killed Buddhiman Tamang, former village development committee chief of Ratnapuri town in Bara district, once known as the home town of Nepal's "Little Buddha", the boy wonder who was reported to be meditating for salvation without touching food or even water.

Besides three factions of former Maoists, nearly 10 more armed groups have stepped up extortion, abduction and killings in the plains, ahead of a crucial election in November.

All the rebel groups, who want an autonomous state in the plains for plains people, have warned they would not allow the election to be held.

The unrest in the Terai forced the government to postpone the elections from June and send an SOS to the Indian government for assistance.

The escalating violence also caused a visiting team of UN electoral experts to report to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that the worsening security situation in Nepal still remains the most serious threat to the November 22 election.