Blast mars Nepal’s biggest festival

October 6th, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 6 (IANS) A bomb exploded in Nepal’s turbulent southern plains Monday morning injuring three children and marring the celebration of the Himalayan republic’s biggest festival Dashain, despite a truce called by warring armed groups.The explosion in the industrial town of Biratnagar in Morang district, along the India-Nepal border, injured three children, aged between eight and 12 years.

A young girl, whose name was given only as Chhoti, and two boys, Riyaz and Raja, were injured when the bomb went off in a garbage dump around 10 a.m.

This is the second explosion in Biratnagar in 72 hours. On Saturday night, a bomb exploded at a mosque in Hattimura village, injuring five people and triggering angry protests from the Muslim community, who blocked the highway Sunday.

Biratnagar is the home town of former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who is currently camping there.

Monday’s blast comes despite a truce announcement by 14 armed groups who are responsible for a welter of killings, abduction and extortion in the Terai plains.

In a joint statement last week, the underground outfits, including several bands of former Maoists, said they would suspend all violent activities for nine days from Monday in deference to Dashain, which corresponds to India’s Dussehra festival.

Terai, racked by violence since the fall of king Gyanendra’s army-backed government two years ago, had been hoping for a peaceful festival with the Maoist insurgency having ended and the former communist guerrillas, who are now heading the government, formally asking the rebel factions Sunday to open negotiations.

However, though some of the bigger rebel groups, especially those who say they are fighting for a political cause, have welcomed the Maoist government’s bid to resolve the armed movements through dialogue, there are other shadowy organisations whose motives and leadership remain shrouded in mystery.

An obscure group called the Nepal Defence Army (NDA), which had claimed responsibility for serial blasts in the capital Kathmandu last year, had also claimed it was behind the mosque bombing.

The NDA is far from calling a truce, especially as its chief Kailash Sahani, alias Mr John, was gunned down along with his bodyguard by police in a reported encounter in August.

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