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Nepal Bomb Blast Wounds 10 - 2002-07-05

In Nepal, a bomb explosion in Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's party office in Kathmandu has wounded 10 people. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

The powerful bomb explosion in Kathmandu rocked the main office of a splinter faction of the Nepali Congress Party, headed by Prime Minister Deuba, just as dozens of his supporters were gathering for a meeting of the party's youth wing.

Mr. Deuba was not in the office when the explosion took place. The building and several houses around it have been damaged.

Witnesses say they saw an unidentified man, who was injured in the blast, fleeing from the building in a car.

The army and police have cordoned off the area and begun an investigation.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility but Maoist rebels waging a bloody insurgency have been blamed for a string of bombings this year in the Nepalese capital, including offices and homes of politicians.

Senior party officials say security is generally lax at the office, recently established by Mr. Deuba for his supporters and visited by scores of people everyday.

The explosion took place at a time when the Nepali Congress Party is embroiled in a bitter internal struggle between factions loyal to Prime Minister Deuba and his rival, party leader Girija Prasad Koirala. The two leaders fell out over the prime minister's plans to extend a state of emergency in the country.

Their differences intensified when Mr. Deuba dissolved parliament and called elections, prompting Mr. Koirala to expel the prime minister from the party five weeks ago.

The two factions are now locked in a bitter dispute over control of the Congress party before elections are held in November.

Nepal has been under a state of emergency since November last year, when the Maoist rebels stepped up their campaign to overthrow the country's constitutional monarchy.