Nepal government bans carrying arms in public
Apr 2, 2007 - 7:24:25 PM

Kathmandu, April 2 - Nepal's new eight-party government Monday banned carrying of arms in public and asked all illegal weapon owners to hand over their weapons within a week.

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who continues with his ministry in the new cabinet sworn in Sunday despite mounting demand for his resignation, announced the ban at a press conference in the capital.

However, it was not clear immediately what the penalty would be for violators.

The ban comes after a Maoist leader was shot dead in Rautahat district in southern Nepal Sunday night.

Kripasur Thakur was killed at his home in a village in the district where situation has been volatile since last month after 29 people were killed on a single day in clashes between Maoists and an ethnic group from the plains, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.

The Forum enforced a shutdown in 22 districts in the plains Monday to demand an investigation into the killings.

Though the carnage stunned the international community, Nepal's government is yet to begin an investigation. While it had announced the formation of a four-member team headed by a judge, the team could not begin work after the Maoists opposed it.

The Forum is demanding a probe by the UN or similar international agency.

The weapons ban would have direct effect on the Maoists, who have been found carrying arms, even after signing an arms accord that pledged to lock up all weapons.

Lokendra Bista, a Maoist MP, created a furore by telling the house that he carried weapons. Two Maoist cadres acting as bodyguards of Maoist MPs were also found trying to carry arms to parliament.

The UN has expressed concern at the circulation of a large number of illegal arms and said if they are not brought under control, the election in June could be jeopardised.

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