Incidents of attack on leaders stoke concern

  • IED blasts targeting candidates, poll campaigns continue unabated
  • Police say they have upped vigilance, arrested over 150 in two weeks
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 17, 2017-

Attacks on candidates and election rallies have continued unabated, prompting security concerns in the run-up to the elections, the first phase of which is scheduled for November 26 in 32 districts.

At least five attacks with improvised explosive devices targeting senior leaders have been reported over the past week. 

On Thursday, a blast caused damage to the vehicle of Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a left alliance candidate from Gorkha-2. The blast occurred near the Sardi River in Gorkha Municipality-10. 

According CPN-UML leader Bimal Kumar Shrestha, the bomb exploded at Barhakilo when the left alliance publicity team was returning after holding an election rally. Left alliance’s provincial assembly candidate Kamala Saharki was also with the team. 

Similarly, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off near the election assembly venue of the left alliance in Baglung on Thursday. Police said the IED blew up at a garbage dumping area, 10 meters from the programme venue, close to Galkot Multiple Campus in Galkot Municipality-3. Security was beefed up in and around the area following the explosion. CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Rastriya Janamorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC of the left bloc later attended the mass gathering.

Security officials said such incidents, in which the assailants throw or detonate IEDs and run away, could pose a serious challenge. 

“In our security plan we had identified such incidents and the possibility of use of explosive devices,” said Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadi, spokesperson for the Home Ministry. “This, however, does not mean we have not been able to curb such incidents. That there have been no causalities and we have been able to deal with the situation show security personnel on the ground are doing their best.” 

Duwadi said the ministry has asked all the districts to reassess security status of leaders of the left alliance.

Top leaders of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) on Wednesday had drawn the government attention to growing incidents of blast and firing at the left alliance leaders and called for maintaining security.  

Oli and Dahal during a joint press meet in the Capital said growing attacks on leaders and election rallies could spoil the poll environment. 

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba also has vowed to act tough against those involved in anti-election activities. PM Deuba, who also holds the holds the Home Ministry portfolio, is currently busy in Province 7. 

“We will come up with a new security plan once the prime minister returns to the Capital,” said a senior official at the Home Ministry. 

The Nepal Police Headquarters said 158 people have been arrested on charge of anti-election campaigns in the last two weeks. 

Security has been stepped up in districts where violent activities have been reported the most, said police. 

Recent security assessments have stated that threat level is high for leaders of the left alliance, particularly Maoist leaders.

 The Home Ministry has issued an order to arrest cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, which is the only party opposing the elections. 

The ministry has instructed chief district officers across the country to arrest Chand’s supporters and keep a close eye on anti-election activities aimed at disrupting the upcoming federal and provincial elections scheduled for November 26 and December 7.

Published: 17-11-2017 07:24

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