Nepal rebels end strike
KATHMANDU: Businesses across Nepal opened on Wednesday after Maoist rebels ended an 11-day strike against King Gyanendra’s move to fire the government and seize power.
Nepal’s Kathmandu, where security is tight, had largely ignored the blockade, but most businesses and transport across the landlocked and mountainous nation shut down because of fear of attacks by the guerrillas.
“It is pretty normal now. The streets are filled with cars and department stores and shopping malls are crowded with people,” said Rel Bahadur Gurung, who works in a newspaper office in the tourist town of Pokhara in west Nepal.
Residents in the southern town of Narayanghat said trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits were heading for Kathmandu.
Although the strike had ended, police said highway patrols had not been called back, fearing further attacks by the Maoists.
“We don’t want to take any chances. They may attack vehicles any time,” a police officer told Reuters.
During the strike, at least six people were killed and dozens wounded in a series of bomb blasts and attacks on cars and trucks by the Maoists to enforce the shutdown.
King Gyanendra said his Feb. 1 move - which also included detention of opposition leaders, suspension of civil liberties and press freedoms - was needed to end the insurgency that has claimed more than 11,000 lives since 1996.
The Maoists are fighting to topple the monarchy and install a communist republic.
Last week, the army said it killed at least 113 Maoists and lost three soldiers in a clash at Khara in west Nepal, one of the deadliest battles in more than a year. afp