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Bomb explodes in Nepal’s capital ahead of polls

/ Source: The Associated Press

An unidentified attacker on a motorcycle threw a bomb near the site of an election rally in Nepal’s capital on Monday, wounding at least one person, officials said.

The bomb was thrown near a convention center in Katmandu, said Home Ministry spokesman Ekmani Nepal.

The attack came minutes after a rally was held in the area by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, a small group that is contesting Thursday’s election for a Constituent Assembly that will decide the Himalayan nation’s political future.

Police official Mahendra Bhattachand said police were searching for the attacker and no one had claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the third bombing in the capital in four days.

Crucial vote for Nepal's future
Some 17.6 million people are eligible to vote in Thursday’s election to choose the assembly, which will rewrite the constitution and decide key issues for Nepal’s future political system.

Security has been stepped up, with thousands of police officers fanning across the country. The government has hired helicopters to patrol mountainous areas and fly police to any trouble spots.

The election is an important part of a peace process under which communist rebels gave up their 10-year revolt against the government in 2006.

An end to the monarchy
The country’s major political parties have already decided that Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy will be abolished after the election.

Nepal’s King Gyanendra seized absolute power in 2005 but was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in 2006 after weeks of pro-democracy protests. He has since lost all his powers and his command of the army.

Former President Jimmy Carter was to arrive in Katmandu later Monday to observe the voting.