| Two women walk past anti-riot policemen in Kathmandu. (Reuters)
Kathmandu , Jan. 30: Maoist guerrillas today launched a daring attack on a mayoral candidate, who is contesting the February 8 municipal elections, in the heavily-guarded Kathmandu valley.
Dil Bahadur Rai, who is contesting from Lalitpur district on a Rashtriya Janmukti Party ticket, was shot at by two unidentified young men this afternoon. He was wounded in the shoulder and is being treated in Patan Hospital, Kathmandu.
According to the police, Rai was sitting in the courtyard of his residence at AVM Chowk when the two youths fired at Rai and then fled on a motorcycle. “Rai is out of danger,”the police said, adding that they had launched a manhunt to nab the assailants.
This is the second attack on candidates who are contesting the controversial civic polls called by the government headed by King Gyanendra.
In the first incident on January 22, a group of Maoist rebels shot dead Bijay Lal Das, who was contesting from the eastern town of Janakpur on a Nepal Sadbhavana Party ticket.
Last Thursday, the rebels abducted Ram Kumar Tharu, a candidate from Gulariya town of Bardiya district.
Despite the violent incidents and the boycott by all the Opposition parties and Maoists, the government is going ahead with the polls.
The seven-party Opposition alliance and the Maoists have vowed to disrupt the elections. Last week, the Maoist “in-charge” in the Kathmandu valley, Prabha Kiran, threatened candidates and urged them to withdraw their nominations by Wednesday “or face graver consequences”.
To counter the Maoist threats of violence, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) said it was taking measures to provide maximum security for the municipal polls.
Addressing a news conference here, RNA spokesperson Brigadier General Nepal Bhushan Chand said that the army was working as per the government directives to provide security for the elections.
“Like in the past, the government has given a mandate to the RNA to make security arrangements for the polls”, he said, adding that the army was committed to respect human rights norms and values.
Chand also denied the RNA’s involvement in the arrest and detention of political activists and said that all such reports were fabricated and misleading. He said over 5300 Maoists and 581 security personnel were killed since August 27, 2003.