3 killed in fresh Terai violence
Apr 26, 2007 - 4:42:29 PM

Kathmandu, April 26 - Three people were killed in fresh violence in Nepal's southern Terai plains even as the nation celebrated the first anniversary of the restoration of democracy after the fall of King Gyanendra's government.

A civilian, Brahmadev Barahi, was killed in Dhanusha district Thursday when unknown assailants fired on the public bus he was travelling in.

No organisation claimed responsibility for the attack immediately, Nepal's official media said.

The firing came as Janakpur, the principal town in the district, lay paralysed following a closure call by ethnic protesters.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, an organisation of Terai inhabitants, most of whom are of Indian origin, has been spearheading a movement for an autonomous Madhes state for the diaspora in the plains.

The forum called the lightning protest after an 18-year-old boy was killed in police firing near the east-west highway, which connects Nepal to India, Wednesday.

Areas around the highway have been reeling under an indefinite strike called by another ethnic group, the Chure Bhawar Ekta Samaj, from Monday, demanding an autonomous state for the community, who are the hill people living in the plains.

Samaj activists set fire to several vehicles for defying the closure, triggering a clash with security forces.

Padam Dev Thakur, 18, said to be a Forum supporter, died in police firing Wednesday.

Over 60 people have been killed in escalating violence in the plains since January.

Besides the Forum and Samaj, groups of former Maoists are also active in the area.

They have been carrying out abduction, extortion and killing, just as the Maoists had done during their 10-year guerrilla war against the state.

A faction of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha, floated by renegade Maoist employees, killed a 40-year-old bank employee Wednesday night.

Led by former rebel Jwala Singh, his supporters abducted Ambika Upreti and killed him in Lahan town, one of the most volatile places in the plain.

The simmering violence in the plains this month caused Nepal's Election Commission to announce that it would be impossible to hold elections June 20, as announced by the government.

Though the eight-party ruling alliance has formed a ministerial team to start talks with the dissenting groups, negotiations have not begun so far.

The fresh turmoil, coming one year after the fall of King Gyanendra's government shows peace is still a distant dream for the beleaguered Himalayan nation.

Though the Maoist guerrillas joined the government this month, signalling a formal end to their guerrilla war, other groups, inspired by the Maoists' success with the gun, have begun staging separate movements, making the Terai a hotbed of violence.

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