Nepal deploys soldiers, police on Mt. Everest

April 20th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by admin  

Kathmandu, April 20 (DPA) Nepal has deployed dozens of armed police and soldiers high up on Mt. Everest with orders to open fire to prevent disruption of the Olympic Torch relay by China, media reports said Sunday. About two dozen police and soldiers were deployed on the mountain to foil any anti-China activities, following threats by Tibetan activists to disrupt the torch relay, the daily Kathmandu Post reported.

“Acting upon concerns of the Chinese government towards ensuring safe passage of the torch, 25 army and police personnel have reached Camp 2 to prevent any activities against China,” the newspaper quoted home ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel as saying.

Camp 2 is located at about 6,500 metres above the sea level and the police and soldiers have orders to open fire if any protests turned violent or get out of control in the Everest region, Dotel said.

“If the security personnel felt pressure to control any untoward incident, we have made arrangement to deploy additional forces during the Olympic torch run,” Dotel said. “Nepal will not allow any such activities inside its territory.”

The move followed restrictions by Nepal’s government on expeditions to climb beyond camp 2 between May 1 and 10.

Ministry officials also said soldiers would accompany expeditions as liaison officers up to Camp 2 during the period to ensure they don’t go any higher.

Media reports said China had asked Nepal to restrict climbing on the 8,848-metre Mt Everest during the planned torch relay on the mountain.

Nepal has seen growing anti-China protests by Tibetan exiles since early March and used police force to disperse the demonstrators.

Police arrested more than 500 Tibetan protestors trying to breach police lines near Chinese embassy in Kathmandu Thursday, in one of the biggest Tibetan protests so far.

Nepal has also come under increasing criticism for its handling of the demonstrations, with the US based Human Rights Watch accusing the government of detaining more than 1,500 Tibetan protestors and in some cases threatening them with deportation back to Tibet.

Nepal has more than 20,000 Tibetans concentrated mainly in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara in western Nepal.

The figure does not include Tibetans who arrived in the country after 1990 because the Nepalese government stopped registering them as refugees.

Rights groups say about 3,000 Tibetans arrive in Nepal each year crossing dangerous mountain passes and risking their lives to flee Chinese rule.

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