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Protester Killed in Nepal as Violence Escalates

April 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal — Security forces fired on stone-throwing protesters Saturday, killing one person and wounding at least five as increasingly violent demonstrations against King Gyanendra's absolute rule spread across the nation.

Protesters ransacked government buildings and attacked security forces in several towns, but a curfew and a threat by authorities to shoot anyone violating it spared the capital, Katmandu, further violence after two days of protests.

However, the pro-democracy opposition pledged to renew demonstrations in the capital, raising fears of a deepening crisis.

Saturday's violence came on the 16th anniversary of the introduction of democracy in Nepal, which Gyanendra abruptly ended last year.

He said the move was needed to bring order to a chaotic and corrupt political scene and to end a communist insurgency that has killed nearly 13,000 people in the last decade.

But the insurgency has worsened and the economy has faltered, fueling the discontent on display in recent days as thousands of workers, professionals and businesspeople have for the first time joined students and political activists at protests.

In the southern town of Bharatpur, a pro-democracy demonstration Saturday by more than 25,000 people erupted into riots.

The protesters set fire to at least half a dozen government offices and forced riot police to retreat from the town's main square, an official said.

Police fired bullets and tear gas, injuring three women, officials said.

In the resort town of Pokhara, one protester among a group throwing stones was shot to death, a friend and a doctor said.

Witnesses and Nepali media reported protests in dozens of other towns and cities.

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