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Curfew extended in Kathmandu ahead of protests

By Super

Kathmandu, Apr 21: Nepal's government re-imposed a curfew in the capital Kathmandu today after political parties announced they would hold fresh anti-monarchy protests and try to march on King Gyanendra's palace.

At least three people were killed and up to 100 injured in protests which swept the city yesterday.

Over 100,000 people gathered on the outskirts of Kathmandu and were beaten back by armed police and troops when they tried to enter city limits in violation of the curfew.

''So many people have come out on the street despite the curfew and crackdown,'' said Krishna Prasad Sitaula, a leader of the Nepali Congress, the country's largest political party.

''It's an indication that our movement has succeeded. Only the result has to be announced. We will continue this until the result comes in favour of the people.'' An Indian envoy who visited the king yesterday said the monarch would soon make efforts to defuse the situation. But there were no signs of any overtures to the parties.

''I am hopeful that very shortly some sort of announcement will be made by him which will help considerably defuse the situation,'' Karan Singh, an Indian lawmaker, told reporters in New Delhi on his return from Kathmandu.

''Now the ball is squarely in the court of the king.'' Friday's curfew would come into force at 0845 hrs IST and last till 1945 hrs IST , officials said.

Curfew was only lifted at 3 am, giving residents a few hours to stock up on food and essentials. Many could be seen heading to local markets at dawn.

A seven-party alliance has been agitating since April 6 to force King Gyanendra to restore multi-party democracy. In all, 11 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in police action against protesters since then.

Kathmandu has been engulfed by protests, but demonstrations involving 100,000 people and above have been held in district towns as well, bringing the landlocked kingdom to a standstill.

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

He has vowed to hold elections by April 2007, but the parties say he is not to be trusted and must hand over power to an all-party government immediately.


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