Protests over draft Nepal charter turn violent, nine dead

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2015 8:34 AM

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - At least nine people were killed in Nepal on Monday when demonstrators attacked police with spears, knives, axes and scythes during a protest against proposals for administrative reform in the Himalayan country.

State television reported authorities had mobilized the army to quell the protests in the low-lying far west of the country close to the border with India.Thousands of people were protesting in the town of Tikapur against a government-backed plan to include their area in a hilly province, part of a regional overhaul envisaged in a new federal constitution expected to be finalised this month.

Raj Kumar Shrestha, chief administrator of Kailali district that includes Tikapur, said protesters had defied a curfew and had begun vandalizing government buildings.

"We have nine people dead," he said, adding that the dead included six police and three protesters.

Shrestha declined to elaborate, but told state television separately that the protesters had attacked the police with an array of sharp-edged weapons.

Bordering India, Kailali is a district in Nepal's far-western region, some 432 km (271 miles) southwest of Kathmandu.

Under the constitutional proposals due to be finalised this month, the district will form part of a hilly province in the far western parts of Nepal.

Protesters are demanding a separate province comprising eight districts in the southwestern plains for themselves.

The government and major political parties hope that the new constitution, which divides the nation into seven federal states, will boost economic development in Nepal, which is still reeling from two devastating earthquakes that killed 8,900 people this year.

But different ethnic groups have been protesting against the plan demanding autonomy for their regions. Four protesters have died in the past two weeks in violent protests across Nepal.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)