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Nepal govt orders probe into deadly clashes

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, Mar 23: Nepal's multi-party government ordered a judicial probe today into clashes between Maoists and ethnic Madhesis that killed at least 27 people, a minister said.

Wednesday's violence was the worst unrest involving Madhesis and the former rebels since the Madhesi People's Rights Forum started protests in January to demand more government jobs and parliament seats for their ethnic community.

Today, the government gave a panel headed by an appeal court judge 15 days to submit its report on the killings in the border town of Gaur, 80 km southeast of Kathmandu.

''The government is very serious about the incident,'' Prabhu Narayan Choudhury, minister for land reforms and management, told Reuters after an emergency cabinet meeting.

Maoists and supporters of the Madhesi forum attacked each other with guns, bamboo sticks, knives and stones following a row over the selection of the same venue for public meetings.

Reports said most of those killed were Maoist supporters.

The violence in Gaur is the most deadly in Nepal since the government and the Maoists signed a peace deal in November.

The Maoists, who began fighting against the monarchy in 1996, signed the peace deal in November, ending a revolt that killed more than 13,000 people.

But in recent months, Maoists and Madhesis have clashed in the fertile and narrow plain in Nepal's south, which borders India, and is dominated by the Madhesi community.

Maoist patience with the Madhesi forum is wearing thin.

''The forum comprises regressive criminal elements,'' Maoist chief Prachanda was quoted in the Kathmandu Post daily as saying.

''The government should immediately outlaw the forum.'' The forum says Madhesis have been discriminated by Nepal's political elite, resulting in under-representation in government jobs, parliament and the police.

At least 58 people have died this year in Madhesi protests that have overshadowed the government's peace deal with the Maoists, which envisages the former rebels joining an interim administration before constituent assembly elections this year.


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