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At least 13 killed ahead of Nepal polls

At least 13 people were killed in Nepal as Maoists launched fresh attacks aimed at disrupting Wednesday's elections.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 18:18 IST
Sudeshna Sarkar (IANS)
Sudeshna Sarkar (IANS)

At least 13 people were killed in Nepal as Maoists launched fresh attacks aimed at disrupting Wednesday's elections and the government began implementing transport and telecom curbs in Kathmandu valley.

The rebels, who called a week-long shutdown from February 5, attacked an army post at Bokse in Udaypur district in eastern Nepal on Monday evening, triggering an overnight battle in which at least five security personnel and two guerrillas were killed.

The rebels launched a second daring attack on a battalion of the Royal Nepalese Army stationed in Panauti town in central Kavre district, about 32 km east Kathmandu, as well as the municipal office, killing two security personnel and a civilian.

The two-storeyed municipal office, where poll officials had been staying for conducting the local polls on Wednesday, was badly damaged as the guerrillas stormed the building around 8.30 pm on Monday, continuing the raid till early Tuesday, the private Kantipur television channel reported.

Sources said while the local administration had disconnected the power supply in Panauti to minimise the damage, the guerrillas used powerful flares to seek their targets.

Clashes between the guerrillas and security forces were also reported from Dhulikhel town, a popular tourist destination north of Panauti, where the rebels bombed the district education office.

As the government headed by King Gyanendra commandeered over 500 public vehicles and ordered them to ply in Kathmandu valley during the closure, the Maoists also struck in Lalitpur city in the valley on Monday evening.

Jitendra Shrestha, an undergraduate student who was plying his cab in defiance of the shutdown, was flagged down by two rebels who posed as passengers, took a ride and shot him in the chest while alighting.

An Armed Police Force personnel was killed on the spot and four others were injured in Mahendranagar in farwestern Nepal, near the Indian border on Monday, while trying to defuse a bomb planted on the highway by the rebels.

An unidentified person was killed by security forces in Rautahat district south of Kathmandu, reports said. Clashes were also reported in the industrial town of Hetauda.

The violence ahead of the elections galvanised a fresh spate of resignations by candidates as well as those declared uncontested winners.

At least eight more people resigned on Tuesday or withdrew from the fray, the Kathmandu Post daily reported. Nearly 700 contestants have withdrawn since last month.

In Sankhuwasabha in northeastern Nepal, two panicky candidates have been going around appealing to people not to vote for them, the Post said.

However, the royalist government said it would hold elections at all costs, taking elaborate precautions to foil attempts by Maoists to disrupt polls.

Besides, putting Bhaktapur under curfew and banning pillion riders on two-wheelers, the government has also ordered suspension of mobile and wireless telephone services from Tuesday evening.

Wednesday has been declared a holiday and traffic has been prohibited in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur barring security vehicles, ambulances, fore brigades and those carrying special passes.

"People have been risking their lives to participate in the elections and people would risk their lives and limbs to come and vote," government spokesman and Information and Communications Minister Shrish Shumsher Rana said.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 18:18 IST