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Nepal violence has claimed its sixth victim

Written by: Staff

KATHMANDU, Apr 19: A woman who was hit on the face by a tear gas shell has become the sixth person to die in Nepal's two-week long protest campaign against King Gyanendra, officials said today.

The woman, who was injured yesterday during a protest in the town of Nepalgunj, 500 km west of Kathmandu, died while being taken to a hospital in the Indian city of Lucknow.

Hundreds of people have been wounded and hundreds of others arrested in the campaign to force King Gyanendra to restore multi-party democracy. The monarch is also under severe international presure to relent.

One flashpoint could come tomorrow at mass rallies called by a seven-party alliance spearheading the campaign, which has vowed to bring out hundreds of thousands of people on the streets.

The United States and India, Nepal's giant neighbour, have both called repeatedly for the restoration of democracy.

King Gyanendra came under further pressure yesterday when three top human rights groups called for international sanctions against the monarch and top Nepali officials, accusing them of being ''impervious to the suffering'' of the Nepalese people.

''He (the king) and his officials have been responsible for serious human rights violations, including the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of critics, torture and ill-treatment of detainees ...,'' Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is sending a special envoy to hold talks with the king today.

King Gyanendra sacked the government and assumed full power in February 2005, vowing to crush a decade-old Maoist revolt in which more than 13,000 people have died.

He has offered to hold elections by April next year, but activists say he cannot be trusted and should immediately hand over power to an all-party government.


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