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Thousands of Bhutanese Refugees Protest at Nepal-India Border

Thousands of Bhutanese refugees demonstrated Wednesday in eastern Nepal, demanding that authorities allow them to cross into India on the way back to Bhutan.

The protesters gathered on the Nepalese-Indian border, but Nepalese police prevented them from crossing a bridge into India.

The refugees of Nepali origin must travel through the Indian state of West Bengal in order to return home to Bhutan.

Since Monday, thousands of refugees have tried to cross the border into India, triggering battles with Indian police. At least nine refugees and 50 Indian security officers were injured in clashes on Tuesday.

India has refused to allow refugees to pass through its territory, fearing they may spark disturbances within Indian borders.

About 100,000 Bhutanese refugees live in camps in eastern Nepal that are monitored by U.N. officials.

An offer from the United States to resettle more than half of the refugees has created tension between those who want to go to the U.S. and others who insist on returning to Bhutan.

Bhutan expelled the predominantly Hindu ethnic Nepalese refugees in the early 1990s to help maintain the kingdom's dominant Buddhist culture.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.