Blasts shake Kathmandu on eve of crucial poll

April 9th, 2008 - 6:30 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 9 (IANS) On the eve of a crucial election in Nepal, two bombs went off in two crowded public places in the Nepal capital Wednesday afternoon, spreading panic. However, no casualties were reported. A bomb went off before Bishwajyoti, one of the oldest cinema halls here, while a second blast occurred in the nearby Ratna Park area in front of the Bir Hospital, Nepal’s oldest.

Though the two explosions took place in crowded areas, no one was injured, said Nepal Police spokesman Sushil Barsingh Thapa.

A private television station said a group called the Ranvir Sena had claimed responsibility for the explosion near the cinema.

The Sena is an underground army of powerful landlords active in Indian towns across the border leading attacks on Maoists and the Dalit community.

Earlier this week, the Sena had also claimed responsibility for a blast in a Terai town in Nepal near the India border.

Nepal has beefed up security for the twice-postponed constituent assembly election Thursday, deploying over 150,000 security personnel and aerial patrols.

The over 1,800-km border between India and Nepal has been sealed for 72 hours from Tuesday.

Nepal Police also arrested 31 Maoist cadres from Butwal town in Rupandehi district Wednesday in a security swoop.

The cadres, members of the Maoists’ dreaded strong arm, the Young Communist League (YCL), were armed with a pistol, daggers, rods and incendiary sticks.

The arrest comes after rising tension over the death of nine people, mostly YCL members.

Seven Maoists were killed in Dang district in midwest Nepal Tuesday after a skirmish with a rival party candidate during which security personnel deployed to protect the contestant opened fire.

In a separate incident, unidentified attackers gunned down the contestant of a ruling party in Surkhet district. Rishi Prasad Sharma’s death triggered public anger that continued Wednesday in defiance of a curfew.

When angry protesters tried to storm a police post, security forces fired on the mob, killing a Maoist cadre.

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