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Blasts rock southern Nepalese town

A series of explosions rip through a town in southeastern Nepal injuring at least two people, police said.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2007 12:17 PM IST

A series of explosions ripped through a town in southeastern Nepal injuring at least two people, police said on Wednesday.

At least half a dozen crude bombs went off at different locations late on Tuesday night in Janakpur, 130 kilometres southeast of the Nepalese capital, injuring a man and his wife who were standing nearby, police said.

The blast targeted the town's main square, market areas and a local police post.

However, there was no major damage and the number of casualties was minimized because the markets and public squares were deserted due to the late hour.

A breakaway faction of the Maoists, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) claimed responsibility for the blasts, saying they were a warning to the country's top political leaders visiting the town.

A statement issued by the group said the explosions were a warning specifically to Mahadev Kumar Nepal, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist.

The statement accused Nepal of being "anti-Madhesi." The Medhesi is an ethnic group of Indian origin that is predominant in the region.

The JTMM, which broke away from the Maoists nearly two years ago, has been involved in low-level insurgency in the region, demanding independence for Terai. It has rejected several calls by the government to hold a dialogue to end the violence.

The blasts are the latest in a series of violent incidents to hit the restive southern Nepalese plains, known as Terai, which has seen growing lawlessness.

Terai is a narrow strip of flat and fertile land bordering India, which caters to much of Nepal's agricultural needs. At least 65 people have died in violence in the region since the beginning of the year.

Most of those killed have been ethnic Madhesi people demanding greater political representation and an end to what they say is years of discrimination by successive rulers in Kathmandu.

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