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Nepalese Pro-Democracy Protesters Defy Curfew, Clash With Police


In Nepal, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have clashed with police after defying a dawn to dusk curfew. The latest violence comes at the end of a four-day nationwide strike called by the political opposition to pressure King Gyanendra to give up power.

Demonstrators poured into the streets in the capital Kathmandu and in surrounding towns, defying a curfew and shoot-on-sight orders imposed by the King to clamp down on the anti-monarch protests.

Police in various cities and towns are reported to have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators.

Tensions ran especially high in the two towns where troops fired on demonstrators Saturday, killing two people.

A senior leader of the Nepali Congress Democratic Party, Minendra Rijal, says a popular movement is building against King Gyanendra.

"If you look at the number of people who are coming in the streets, people are coming out, common people, general people, people from all walks of life are coming out," he said.

The king has faced growing protests since he seized power in February 2005 saying the government had failed to stem a decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The government banned this latest four-day strike and detained hundreds of political leaders and activists in a failed effort to stem the rallies.

Nepal's seven opposition parties have joined with the Maoist rebels to oppose the king and demand the restoration of democracy.