Nepalese police have reportedly arrested hundreds of demonstrators in Kathmandu as a four-day strike began to press demands for King Gyanendra to restore multi-party democracy. While the political battled raged in the capital, there was violence in the South, as Maoist rebels waging an insurgency raided a district town.
Police in riot gear patrolled nearly deserted streets in Kathmandu Thursday as most businesses and schools shut down in response to the strike called by opposition parties.
Opposition leaders pressing King Gyanendra to give up power say hundreds of political leaders and activists have been arrested.
Gopal Man Shrestha, president of the Nepali-Congress Democratic Party, says government efforts to thwart the protests will not work.
He says people from all walks of life - professionals, students and activists - have thrown their weight behind the strike.
Meanwhile Maoist rebels attacked a district town Thursday, Malangawa, bombing government buildings and firing at security posts. The rebels have called a cease-fire in Kathmandu in a bid to bolster the strike, but violence continues unabated in other parts of the country.
The King has faced growing protests since he seized power a year ago, but so far he has rebuffed calls for a restoration of democracy.