Tension mounts as police kill protester in Nepal
Friday, 29 February 2008

Reuters, Kathmandu

The police shot dead another protester in southern Nepal on Wednesday as violence continued in the region crippled by weeks of general strike, an official said.

The police fired at scores of protesters defying a curfew in the industrial town of Duhabi, district officials said.

The protesters belong to the Madheshi ethnic group, and have been demanding greater autonomy for their region and other reforms ahead of a national election due in April, a demand the government has so far denied.

'The situation is tense,' said Prem Narayan Sharma, a district administrator. Another four protesters and one policeman have been killed in the violence this month.

Blockades in region have prevented fuel and other vital supplies getting from the Indian border to Kathmandu, resulting in long queues outside the few petrol stations that are open.

Madheshi leaders met with the government again on Tuesday evening, but did not reach an agreement. 'We are discussing among ourselves about a new government invitation for fresh talks,' said Hridayesh Tripathi, a Madheshi negotiator.

Madheshis are the dominant community living in Nepal's fertile plains in the south. They say they are discriminated against by the central government in Kathmandu.

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