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Violence Builds in Nepal Strike

April 26, 2002

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Bombs exploded in a taxi in a tourist area and in a bus driving by the king’s residence on Friday, injuring seven people, police said, blaming the blasts on rebels trying to enforce a strike call.

Attacks have been on the rise as residents have increasingly defied the call for a strike this week, made by rebels to prove the extent of their support in urban areas. The five-day work stoppage is scheduled to end Saturday.

In other violence, security forces killed eight rebels in five shootouts overnight, a defense ministry statement said Friday.

Guerrillas have waged an insurrection since 1996 in an attempt to topple the constitutional monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom and set up a communist state.

The United Nations, meanwhile, suspended its food program in two western Nepal districts after U.N. grain stores there were looted by suspected rebels.

Five passengers were injured, one seriously, when a small bomb exploded Friday on a bus about 300 yards from the residence of King Gyanendra, police said.

Another bomb exploded late Thursday in a taxi in the capital’s main tourist area, injuring the driver and a pedestrian, police said.

An empty bus and a motorcycle were also bombed Thursday, frightening some shop owners who had defied the strike call into closing their businesses again.

More taxis and buses were on the roads Friday, the rainy and cold fourth day of the strike.

More than 3,000 people have died in the fighting, which has intensified since the king declared a national emergency on Nov. 26 and ordered the army to help the ill-equipped police fight the rebels. The crackdown came after the rebels withdrew from peace talks and resumed attacks on government offices and police stations.

Update hourly