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Police raid newspaper office in West Nepal

Khem Bhandari, editor of the Abhiyan newspaper, was not at his house or office when police conducted the raids on Sunday.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 14:27 IST

Police raided a newspaper office in western Nepal and the home of its editor, a media rights group said on Monday.

Khem Bhandari, editor of the Abhiyan newspaper, was not at his house or office when police conducted the raids late on Sunday.

"The local authorities were trying to harass the editor because he is known to openly criticise the top government officials in the region," said Bishnu Nisthuri, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, an umbrella body of media rights groups.

Nisthuri said there was no warrant issued or any cause given for the raids.

Officials in Kanchanpur, which is about 600 kilometers west of Kathmandu, were not available for comments.

The royal government has imposed severe restrictions on journalists in the media since King Gyanendra seized absolute power last year and introduced new media laws.

Criticism of the king, the government and security forces has been banned.

The government has also prohibited independent reporting on the country's communist insurgency, imposing a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 500,000 rupees on journalists and newspapers that violate the ban.

According to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, at least 114 journalists have been arrested by the government in the past one year and seven still remain in detention.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 14:27 IST