3 killed in Nepal as festival truce ends


Kathmandu : A blast in a market in southern Nepal Tuesday, the last day of a long Hindu festival celebrated throughout the Himalayan republic, killed three people and signified the end of a truce called by armed groups.

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Tension prevailed in Chadranigahapur, a major town in Rautahat district in Nepal’s volatile southern plains, which have been restive since 2006 with a growingly militant movement for greater rights for plains people of Indian origin. Sheela Magar, 24, her daughter Shrishti and three-year-old nephew were killed and four others injured, police said.

Locals began demonstrating, blocking the highway by burning tyres and refusing to let the bodies be removed.

It led to a clash with the police and one person was injured in the subsequent police firing.

Two shadowy underground organisation calling themselves the Terai Tigers and National Army claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying the government had not created an environment conducive for talks.

The explosion came after an uneasy lull in the plains since October 6 when 14 armed groups active in the terai region declared a nine-day ceasefire to allow people celebrate Nepal’s biggest Hindu festival Dashain.

But there were signs of tatter in the truce when a band of militant former Maoists Sunday shot dead a communist cadre in his residence in Siraha district, also in the plains.

Nepal’s new government led by the former Maoist guerrillas have announced the formation of a three-member ministerial team and urged the underground rebel groups to come forward for talks.

Two of the ministers are said to be camping in the Terai – also known as Madhes – to establish contact with the rebels, many of whom have hideouts in India across the border.

Though two of the factions of former Maoists said they were ready to open negotiations with the government, the others have not responded so far.

Unlike the Maoists, who had a political ideology when they waged a 10-year war on the state, most of the armed groups in the Terai are regarded as criminal gangs.