Blast kills nine in Nepal


Kathmandu : Nine people, including five members of a family, were killed in a bomb blast in western Nepal's Palpa district Tuesday morning, an incident that comes a year after the signing of a peace pact with Maoist insurgents.

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The incident occurred in Gothpani, a five-hour drive from the district headquarters Tansen.

Bal Krishna Panthi, chief district officer of Palpa, a prime tourist destination in the hilly west, said that a team of investigators and a bomb squad had rushed to the area following reports of a deafening blast around 8.30 a.m.

Panthi said his office had been alerted about the possibility of nine people being killed in the blast that demolished the house where it was concealed.

"We have to wait till the rescue team digs up the survivors and the dead bodies to know the full details," the official said.

Nepal's official media confirmed the deaths, adding that five of the victims were members of the same family.

However, the victims' identities were not made public immediately.

According to media reports, the bomb could have been a legacy of the Maoists' 10-year "people's war".

Though the rebels signed a formal peace agreement with the government last year and this year joined the ruling coalition, it is feared that a formidable arsenal of bombs and mines remains planted throughout Nepal.

An arms accord pledged that the guerrillas and the army would work together to defuse concealed land mines, but no substantial progress has yet been reported.

Last winter, during the reign of King Gyanendra, the Maoists had launched a multi-pronged attack in Tansen, destroying an old palace used as an administrative office, the local prison, and security installations.