December 15, 2005

Protests in Nepal after soldier kills villagers

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Hundreds of people took to the
streets and burned tires in noisy protests on Thursday after a
Nepali soldier killed 11 people and wounded 19 after an
argument, the army and witnesses said.

The army said the soldier, who began shooting after a row
with villagers, also died in the incident which took place late

on Wednesday near the tourist resort of Nagarkot, 30 km (20
miles) from Kathmandu.

Some news reports said he killed himself.

"The army has taken the incident very seriously and an
investigation has been ordered" and the families of the dead
would be compensated, the army said in a statement.

At least 2,000 people, including relatives and friends of
the victims, burned tires and protested against the killings in
Bhaktapur, the nearest town.

"You can't just kill people," they shouted outside a
hospital where the bodies of the victims were taken for post
mortem examinations.

Dozens of riot police stood guard as relatives waited to
receive the bodies.

"I heard the sound of bullets as I was preparing to sleep.
I was terribly scared," Sohan Shrestha, who had come to collect
the body of his son, said at the hospital, tears rolling down
his cheeks.

Witnesses said the villagers had gathered to mark the full
moon on Wednesday at the temple on a hilly terrace.

"Bloodstains littered the entire temple," journalist Deepak
Rijal told Reuters after visiting the site. "The villagers are

Human rights groups say the poorly trained Nepali army
regularly commits human rights abuses in its battle to quell a
Maoist rebellion.

More than 12,500 people have died in the conflict that has
also shattered Nepal's aid and tourist dependent economy.