Violent protests continue in Nepal

Foreign Ministry warns Israeli tourists away from areas of unrest.

nepal protest 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
nepal protest 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Foreign Ministry on Saturday warned Israeli tourists in Nepal to stay away from the increasingly violent demonstrations in that country, Channel 2 reported. No reports have yet been received of Israelis who have been caught up in the violence. On Saturday, Nepali security forces fired on stone-throwing protesters, killing one person and wounding at least five others as demonstrations against King Gyanendra spread across the Himalayan nation. Saturday's violence came on the 16th anniversary of the introduction of democracy in Nepal, an experiment that King Gyanendra abruptly ended last year when he reclaimed absolute power for the royal dynasty. In the southern town of Bharatpur, more than 25,000 pro-democracy demonstrators rioted in the largest protest since the beginning of a four-day nationwide strike called by the opposition - and backed by the rebels - began Thursday, officials said. The protesters set fire to at least half a dozen government offices and forced riot police to retreat from town's main square, an official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media. Police fired bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters, injuring three women, including two sisters, who were watching the melee, the official said. In Katmandu, protesters hurled bricks, shouted slogans and clashed with police in a few places before the curfew came into effect, after which people scurried home, leaving streets empty even of tourists, who were only permitted to travel to and from the airport. The curfew began at 10 a.m., and officials said later Saturday it would stay in effect through Sunday. They also repeated warnings on state television and radio that violators would be shot. The curfew and threats prompted the opposition - an alliance of seven political parties, nearly all of Nepal's major ones - to put off a planned protest in Katmandu to Sunday, although with the extension of the curfew it appeared the rally would again be delayed. "If the government imposes curfew on Sunday then we will hold it on Monday. But we will not give up," said Dip Kumar Upadhaya of the Nepali Congress Democratic party. He spoke before the announcement of the curfew extension. The rally is intended to be the high point of the general strike, which is supposed to end Monday. Apart from Saturday's shootings, the government has arrested more than 750 people since Wednesday. Police were seen Saturday detaining another 20 rights activists for defying the curfew.