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Violence In Nepal

Journalists in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, marched in protest against the murder of Birendra Sah. Mr. Sah was a reporter for Nepal’s FM news radio station and several local newspapers. He was abducted and murdered in early October by Maoists in Nepal’s Bara district. Mr. Sah had written stories about alleged smuggling by Maoists and about Maoist violence against political opponents.

More than thirteen thousand people have been killed and some two-hundred thousand others displaced in a decade of conflict between Maoist insurgents and Nepal government forces. A peace agreement ended the fighting in 2006. The Maoists agreed to renounce violence, but the violence continues.

In its latest human rights report, the U.S. State Department said Maoist insurgents committed numerous human rights abuses throughout 2006 including murder, kidnapping, and extortion. Abuses by Nepali security forces decreased substantially while Maoist abuses continued relatively unabated.

A report by Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission says that more than one-hundred people were killed between late February and mid-July of this year in riots or in clashes between extremists, including the Maoists and a dozen armed groups in Nepal’s southern Terai region. The report says “bomb attacks on vehicles carrying media people and incidents of attacks and threats against human rights workers have increased the sense of insecurity.”

Violence continues to worry international observers. The United Nations Security Council recently called on Nepal to set an early date for elections that will choose a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. The elections have already been postponed twice by Nepal’s interim government.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad says “the election is part of a process for normalizing the situation in Nepal.” For elections to take place, said Mr. Khalilzad, all the parties to the peace process, including Nepal’s Maoists, “must do their part in terms of delivering on their commitments.”