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Strike makes Nepal bleed

Kathmandu, Sept. 16 (Reuters): One woman was killed and two people wounded when Maoist rebels threw a bomb near Pokhara in west Nepal today, as a rebel sponsored strike shut down the Himalayan kingdom, officials said.

Interior ministry spokesman Gopendra Bahadur Pandey told Reuters the bomb was aimed at a taxi that had defied the strike call but missed its target and exploded on the road instead.

The strike by the rebels, inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, closed down shops and schools in the Nepali capital and other towns and kept most traffic off the streets.

Tight security has been imposed for the strike, with soldiers guarding key buildings across the normally bustling Kathmandu. Offices stayed open but were thinly staffed.

“Strict security measures have been made to avoid any untoward incident and to protect the life and property of the people during the strike,” Pandey said. Most taxi drivers and shopkeepers said they did not dare defy the strike call.

“If you defy them now, the rebels will take revenge by attacking you later,” said taxi driver Dipak Lama.

But some private cars and taxis were on the streets in Kathmandu with their number plates covered with paper to avoid being identified.

In the past, motorists defying strike calls have been attacked and shops have been torched.

“How can I open my shop'” asked Bharat Rajbhandari, who runs a stationery shop in Kathmandu's main business district. “There is no security.”

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