Ethnic groups claim responsibility for Nepali blasts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 04, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 04, 2007

Ethnic groups claim responsibility for Nepali blasts

Two ethnic groups from Nepal's restive southern Terai region claimed responsibility Monday for bombs that killed two people and injured around 30 in the country's capital over the weekend.
The three near-simultaneous explosions Sunday, one in a minibus, one at a bus stand and one outside Nepal's Army headquarters, prompted immediate condemnation from the government, former rebel Maoists and the United Nations.
Officials and local media said two little-known ethnic groups from the region -- the Terai Army and the Nepal People's Army -- said they carried out the attacks.
"Our group takes responsibility for the three blasts in Kathmandu. We want a separate state for the 19 districts of the Terai region," a man claiming to be a central committee member of the Terai Army also told AFP.
"If our demands are not met we will take further action and attack parliament," said the man, who only gave his name as Raj and who was speaking from an undisclosed location near Nepal's southern border with India.
In May, the same group claimed responsibility for a series of small blasts that injured 14 people.
Another group also claimed responsibility when contacted by telephone.
"We carried out the blasts in order to pressure the government to declare Nepal a republic immediately," said a man who identified himself as Puskar from the Nepal People's Army.
"We had planned this attack a month ago. This is just a small warning to the government," said the man, whose claims could not be verified.
Since Nepal's government reached a peace deal with former rebel Maoists last year, numerous ethnic groups have demanded a greater voice in mainstream politics.
At least 100 people have been killed in the unrest that international observers, including the United Nations, say could threaten elections planned for November.
A spokesman for Nepal's home ministry confirmed that two groups had claimed responsibility for the attacks, but said it was not yet possible to confirm who planted the bombs.
"A couple of groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks but we think there will be more groups who will claim responsibility," Baman Prasad Neupane told AFP.
"There are around 17 small armed groups in the Terai and anybody could have done these blasts," Neupane said.
Nepal's former rebel Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil war last year and joined the government earlier this year, quickly condemned the attacks, which they said they were aimed at derailing the polls.
"Regressive forces are behind these attacks who want to derail the ongoing peace process and disrupt the campaign for a democratic republic and constituent assembly elections," Maoist supremo Prachanda said in a statement.
The home ministry spokesman also said the blasts were "an attempt to try and prevent the elections."
Nepal is due to go to the polls later this year to elect a body that will rewrite the country's constitution and decide the fate of King Gyanendra.
The monarch was forced to end 14-months of much criticised authoritarian rule last April after massive protests organised by sidelined political parties and the Maoists.

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