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Funeral Held for Murdered Nepalese Journalist

A journalist who was murdered by Maoists a month ago but remained missing until yesterday has been cremated in southern Nepal. Before the funeral there were angry scenes as mourners tried to burn down the house of one of his accused killers. Liam Cochrane reports from Kathmandu.

More than 3,000 mourners joined the family of murdered reporter Birendra Shah on Friday to pay their last respects. The emotional ceremony was held in Bara district, 100 kilometers south of Kathmandu.

Shah's nine-year-old son Bibek lit the funeral pyre saying he wanted to become a journalist just like his father.

Earlier in the day, armed police had to stop an angry crowd from burning down the house of one of his accused killers, Lal Bahadur Chaudary.

Birendra Shah was abducted by Maoists a month ago after he exposed their illegal logging deals. His fate was unknown until last week, when a committee of Maoists reported that three of their members had taken Shah into a forest and shot him on the same day he was abducted.

Shah's decomposing body was found on Thursday buried in swampy forest, along with his press card, spectacles and a pen. It was positively identified by family members.

There has been no formal apology from the former rebels and the three men suspected of the murder remain at large.

"These three people who have been now identified as the people responsible for the murder of B.S. are still absconding," said R.B. Khatry, the executive director of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists. "The government says it doesn't know where they are, the Maoist organization say it doesn't know where they are. But we believe that those three guys are under protection or in contact of the Maoist leader."

The federation has called on the Maoists to hand over those responsible to the police.

The journalist union also believes the government knew the fate of Shah much earlier, but concealed the information.

They are considering further protest action.

During Nepal's decade-long civil war, 18 journalists were killed, but Shah's murder is the first since the Maoists signed a peace deal last year and joined an interim government.