Kathmandu blast shatters fragile peace in Nepal
Monday's bomb blast outside Nepal Oil Corporation's office in Kathmandu that claimed three lives and injured seven shattered the fragile peace in Nepal and exposed claims by Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gacchadhar about improvement in law and order situation.
The explosion in the heart of the capital and very close to Singha Darbar, the official seat of Nepal government, also left no doubt in anyone's mind that security scenario in Kathmandu was not as impregnable as thought to be.
It was the first major blast to have rocked Kathmandu Valley in three years. The last one took place in May 2009 at a church in Lalitpur, located close to the capital, and claimed three lives. In 2007, a series of blasts had also left three dead.
All these blasts took place after signing of the peace deal with Maoists in 2006 that ended the 10 year civil war. Minutes after Sunday's blast, a little known outfit called Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha called up media houses and claimed responsibility.
Someone claiming to be the outfit's spokesperson said the blast was in protest against hike in prices of petroleum products announced two days earlier. Police are yet to verify the real motive. Usual sequence of events like forming a probe committee, announcement of relief to kin of deceased and injured, blame game between the government and opposition and improvement of security for VVIPs and strategic locations followed the blasts.
Apart from shaking Kathmanduites out from their slumber, the blast was also bad news for the tourism industry which is trying to revive itself. Soon after the incident, UK issued a fresh travel advisory asking its citizens visiting Nepal to be "extra vigilant".
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai sees the blast as an attempt to derail the peace and constitution drafting processes. He believes more such incidents might occur as the May 27 deadline for completing both tasks comes closer. A red alert has been sounded across the nation and security and intelligence apparatus beefed up. With time running out, Nepal can't afford more distractions.