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Two bomb blasts shake Nepal’s capital

Suspected Maoist rebels triggered two early morning bomb blasts in Nepal's capital on Thursday, damaging buildings including the country’s election office, but no one was hurt, authorities said.
/ Source: Reuters

Suspected Maoist rebels triggered two pre-dawn bomb blasts in the Nepali capital on Thursday, damaging buildings including the country’s election office, but no one was hurt, police said.

The blasts came a week after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba set a Jan. 13 deadline for the insurgents to join peace talks. If they fail to join the talks, Katmandu has said it will go ahead and hold national elections, long delayed due to unabated rebel violence.

The rebels, fighting to replace Nepal’s constitutional monarchy with communist rule, have rejected the deadline.

The first blast took place at the home of former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s daughter. It blew a crater in the garden and shattered window panes of the red brick house in an upmarket area in the temple-studded capital.

A second explosion hit the local Election Commission office in Patan, a Katmandu suburb, breaking windows and doors of the yellow building.

“I heard a big explosion while I was sleeping on the top floor,” Binod Pokharel, a district election official who was in the three-story building, told Reuters. “Glass pieces fell on my quilt but I was not hurt.”

Shards of glass littered the office after the blast near its gate. Though there were no claims of responsibility, police blamed Maoist guerrillas.

“Both explosions took place almost simultaneously. No one is injured,” a police officer said.

It was not immediately known why Koirala’s daughter’s house was targeted. The former premier, who was critical of the rebels when he was in power, does not live in that house and his daughter is a junior member of his Nepali Congress party.

Maoist insurgency
Katmandu has been frequently hit by bomb blasts blamed on the rebels. At least 40 people were wounded in two blasts in Katmandu last month.

Nepal is struggling to quell the Maoist insurgency, which began in 1996 and has claimed more than 10,000 lives in one of the world’s poorest countries, wedged between India and China.

The revolt has also damaged Nepal’s infrastructure, wrecked its aid and tourism-dependent economy and forced thousands of villagers to flee countrysides controlled by the rebels.