Seven killed in violence ahead of Nepal polls


At least seven people, including a candidate, were killed in violence ahead of elections meant to map Nepal's political future, officials said on Wednesday.

The centrepiece of a 2006 peace deal with Maoist rebels, Thursday's elections will produce an assembly meant to write a new constitution, ditch a 240-year-old monarchy and turn the Himalayan nation into a republic.

But analysts and diplomats say the violence during the run-up to the vote could undermine the credibility of Nepal's first national polls since 1999.

"We have recovered six bodies from the site of a violent incident in Dang district," Home Ministry spokesman Modraj Dotel said, about a clash in west Nepal late on Tuesday.

One candidate from the Communist UML party was killed in another incident in nearby Surkhet district, Dotel said.

"Both incidents took place late at night and we are waiting for details," he said.

The latest deaths take to at least 10 the number of people killed in election-related violence so far.

Maoists say police fired on their cadres in Dang on the instructions of a candidate of the rival Nepali Congress party.

Mainstream political parties accuse the former rebels of intimidating voters and preventing campaigning in their former strongholds.

Maoists say rival party workers were trying to provoke them and create trouble to discredit the former guerrillas.

Nepal has deployed at least 135,000 police to provide security during the vote.

Hundreds of international monitors, from organisations including the United Nations, European Union and the Atlanta-based Carter Centre are monitoring the vote. (Reuters)