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Police: Activists set fire to bus in Nepal strike

November 12, 2013

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Opposition activists set fire to a bus and attacked cars in Nepal on Tuesday during a transport blockade that emptied highways, stranded thousands of travelers and was aimed at disrupting next week’s elections.

Police were escorting a convoy of vehicles on the Prithvi highway linking the capital, Katmandu, with the rest of the country when the bus was attacked at dawn, police spokesman Ganesh Chetri said. The passengers escaped by breaking windows, but the attackers fled in the dark. It occurred at Chitwan, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Katmandu.

Strike supporters also stopped at least three cars and vandalized them in Katmandu. The passengers were not hurt. At least nine people have been detained, Chetri said.

An alliance of 33 opposition parties ordered the nine-day transport strike from Tuesday after enforcing a general strike on Monday that forced businesses to close and brought much of the country to a standstill. Markets and businesses opened on Tuesday but most schools remained shut because of the transport strike.

The Nov. 19 polls to elect a Constituent Assembly are the second national elections since Nepal’s 10-year civil war ended in 2006.

A previous assembly was tasked with writing a constitution in 2008, following the overthrow of the centuries-old monarchy. But the assembly was riven by political battles and never accomplished its task.

The current interim government was formed earlier this year by the major political parties and is led by the Supreme Court’s chief judge. The opposition alliance that called the strike is demanding the current government be disbanded and a new government with representation from all the political parties be formed to conduct elections at a later date.

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