Over 30 injured in blast at Nepal poll rally

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : Over 30 people were wounded Wednesday in a bomb blast during an election rally of Nepal’s ruling coalition parties in frontier Birgunj town, despite stringent security measures.

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The mass meeting of the seven ruling parties in Nepal’s industrial capital Birgunj, the seventh joint campaign for the April 10 constituent assembly elections, received a jolt when a powerful bomb went off at the Narayani Stadium, where thousands had flocked to hear the leaders.

Security arrangements in the town were tight in apprehension of violence as several armed groups that are active in the plains had called a two-day shutdown in the region from Tuesday to foil the meeting.

Soon after the blast, an emerging armed group from the plains, the Madhesi Mukti Tigers, claimed the responsibility for the attack.

The first joint rally of the seven parties that kicked off in Kathmandu this month also came under a bomb attack, but the number of casualties was low – only three injured.

As the parties began spreading out in the Terai, there has been growing opposition by both armed and unarmed Terai groups who have continued to ignore the government’s call to begin negotiations.

This week, the ruling parties agreed to form a new committee and begin dialogue with the ethnic groups.

Over 300 people died in the growing violence in Terai last year as several groups began waging separate movements for an autonomous region in the plains.

In June 2007, the government was forced to postpone the crucial election due to the growing violence in the southern plains.

The continued lawlessness raises fresh doubts about the fate of the April polls.