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Boy killed as blasts rock Kathmandu

Kathmandu, Sept. 8 (Reuters): Six bomb blasts hit Kathmandu today, killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding about a dozen people in the worst attacks in the Nepali capital since a truce between the government and the Maoist rebels collapsed.

No one claimed responsibility but an interior ministry official blamed Maoist rebels, fighting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establish one-party communist rule, for the explosions at government installations. “Obviously it was the work of Maoists,” he said.

The bombs exploded almost simultaneously as people headed to work or school. “I was in my morning prayers when a big bang shook the house. It was terrible,” 43-year-old resident Ajay Bhatta said about the attack in which the boy was killed.

The rebels called off a seven-month truce late last month after the government rejected their demand for an assembly that would draft a constitution to set up a new political structure.

About 7,300 people have been killed in the revolt since it began in 1996. Interior ministry spokesperson Gopendra Bahadur Pandey said security had been tightened. Soldiers cordoned off areas near the attacks and patrolled the streets.

The blasts came a day after at least nine guerrillas and four security personnel were killed in separate gun battles across the troubled Himalayan kingdom.

The rebels were also accused of killing a journalist from the state-run Rashtriya Samachar Samiti news agency at Sindhupalchowk, near Kathmandu.

The violence came as the country’s main political parties pressed on with a campaign to force King Gyanendra to fire the Prime Minister and appoint a new government. Police said 400 people were detained when the parties again defied a ban on protests and demonstrated in Kathmandu. A police official said they would soon be released.

The ban on protests was imposed to maintain law and order after the rebels ended their truce.

Political parties have been campaigning since October, when the king fired Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba after a dispute over the timing of a general election and named royalist Lokendra Bahadur Chand in his place. Chand resigned in May after protests but Gyanendra picked another royalist, Surya Bahadur Thapa, over a candidate proposed by the parties.

The parties are demanding that the monarch, who ascended the throne after a 2001 palace massacre, reinstate the parliament dissolved last year or appoint their nominee as Prime Minister.

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