Curfew in Nepal towns after violent clashes

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KATHMANDU, Sep 16 (Reuters) Nepali authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in four southwestern towns today following violent protests against the killing of a local politician, a local government official said.

Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead Mohit Khan, a leader of the centrist Nepali Congress Party in Chandrauta town, said Narendra Dahal, a district administrator.

The murder sparked protests among local residents who clashed with police and set fire to dozens of shops and vehicles. The violence spread to three nearby towns in the southern plains bordering India.

''The situation is under control after we imposed the curfew,'' Dahal said. Town residents will be confined to their homes around the clock until further notice.

Local media reports said Khan had been a member two years ago of a vigilante group supported by the then government which fought Maoist rebels towards the end of their decade-long insurgency.

But further details about the unrest and the motive behind the politician's killing could not be confirmed.

The former Maoist rebels have now joined a coalition government with mainstream political parties under a peace deal.

As part of the terms of the deal, Nepal is due to hold national elections in November for an assembly which will draft a new constitution and decide the fate of the monarchy.

But many politicians say the violence in the country's southern plains must stop to ensure free and fair vote.

At least 60 people were killed this year in protests by several ethnic groups, including some armed rebel groups in the Himalayan nation's southern plains, who were demanding more government jobs and seats in parliament.

REUTERS SYU AS1825

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