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Angry protests in Nepal over politician's detention

By Staff
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KATHMANDU, Mar 24 (Reuters) About 150 protesters burned tyres and stopped traffic in the Nepali capital today, demanding the release of a top opposition leader who has been detained by police, witnesses said.

Officials said Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal-UML, will be held in custody for three months under the Public Security Act.

He was taken yesterday from his home, where he had been under house arrest for two months, to a police base at Kakani, about 30 kms (20 miles) outside the capital.

''Free our leader, down with autocracy,'' chanted Nepal's angry supporters, disrupting rush-hour traffic for an hour on a central street in the temple-studded city.

Riot police stood guard but did not intervene.

Nestled in the scenic Himalayas, Nepal has witnessed almost daily street protests against King Gyanendra, calling for the restoration of democracy and of some civil liberties that had been suspended.

King Gyanendra dismissed the government last year and took power, saying he was doing so to quell an anti-monarchy Maoist revolt that has claimed more than 13,000 lives in the past decade.

REUTERS CH PM1404

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