09/19/2007, 00.00
NEPAL
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Sectarian violence breaks out between Hindus and Muslims

by Kalpit Parajuli
The killing of a Muslim leader in Kapilvastu district (perhaps at the hands of Maoists) unleashes sectarian violence between the two groups. Hundreds of homes are torched; hundreds of people are hurt and many are killed. Now police are in control of the situation.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepali Police regained control in Kapilvastu district, some 200 kilometres west of the capital of Kathmandu, after two days of sectarian violence between Muslims and Hindus. A ceasefire remains in place. But in nearby fields five headless and mutilated bodies were found yesterday; the likely victims Hindus. Residents who could fled to bordering districts despite the interruption to regular overland communication.

Violence broke out on Sunday when a Muslim political leader and former head of an anti-Maoist group was killed. His erstwhile former enemies, local Maoists, are suspected.

When the news became public an angry crow attacked vehicles and torched the homes of more than 200 Hindus.

A Hindu driver was killed on the road and many others were injured.

A crowd attacked government buildings setting fire to more than 200 offices, beating to death a police official, Hasan Puri. Many stores were pillaged.

Hindus retaliated by attacking and beating Muslims. Two mosques were destroyed and fire was set to houses owned by Muslims.

Despite the ceasefire imposed by the authorities, protests by both groups continue.

Local sources said that yesterday groups of Muslims came across the nearby Indian border and attacked a Hindu temple, but were eventually stopped by police.

Local Police Chief Narendra Dahal told AsiaNews yesterday that the “situation is now under control, but we have been unable to go and see if there are other victims.”

In fact many fear that the number of people killed or hurt might be high, some suggesting that the number of injured might be as high as 150, some really seriously hurt.

In Kathmandu both the government and the Nepali Islamic organisation Ettehad have urged people to stop and seek “social harmony and religious tolerance.”

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