UN begins probe as nine die in Nepal pre-poll violence

April 9th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 9 (IANS) The UN Wednesday began separate investigations into two incidents of violence in Nepal on the eve of a critical election that continued even after the death of nine people, mostly Maoists. Ian Martin, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for Nepal and chief of the UN Mission in Nepal (Unmin) that is assisting in the fragile peace process, said a team had reached Dang where seven former guerrillas died Tuesday night in police firing to break up a violent clash between Maoists and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party.

“I am shocked,” Martin said, adding that he had been repeatedly asking security forces to behave impartially and not use excessive force.

He said an Unmin team would also investigate the separate incident of violence in Surkhet where a candidate was killed Tuesday night.

Rishi Prasad Sharma, a member of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), died after unidentified assailants attacked his vehicle in a crowded market place, knifing his driver and pumping bullets in his stomach.

As enraged UML supporters began demonstrations in the area Wednesday, defying an indefinite curfew imposed by the authorities, security forces fired yet again, killing a protester.

The dead man was identified as Gopal Sunuwar, a member of the strong arm of the Maoists, the Young Communist League.

In the past, Nepal’s security forces have come under international condemnation repeatedly for using brute force to quell demonstrations, often by unarmed protesters including women.

Last month, the image of a blood-spattered Tibetan monk made headlines worldwide after armed police force beat up Tibetan refugees protesting China’s crackdown in Tibet.

In 2006, when Nepal’s current ruling parties were on the streets, waging public protests against King Gyanendra’s army-backed rule, they were at the receiving end of the same security forces who caused the death of nearly 20 unarmed protesters.

Martin said besides the Unmin teams the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal would also independently investigate the two incidents.

As tension simmered in Nepal 24 hours before a critical election that has been deferred twice due to violence, Maoist supremo Prachanda issued a statement, urging party cadres to show restraint.

The former rebel chief, who is contesting Thursday’s election from two constituencies, met Koirala early Wednesday to warn him that Maoist cadres were simmering with anger at the continued attacks on them and could react unless the killers were brought to justice immediately.

The Nepal premier has also come under fire from the UML for the death of its contestant, which is also being blamed on Koirala’s Nepali Congress party.

Nearly two-dozen people have been killed in the run-up to the constituent assembly election, regarded as the bloodiest in Nepal’s history.

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