Explosion in Nepal: 5 people wounded

An explosion at a booby-trapped roadblock along a key highway in western Nepal killed one policeman and wounded four others Monday, officials said, blaming Maoist rebels who have vowed to disrupt this week's municipal elections.

The police were clearing rocks piled on the road when explosives hidden in the debris detonated, officials said. The blast occurred on a stretch of the Mahendra highway near the village of Chaite, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) southwest of Katmandu.

The officials, who asked not be identified out of fear of Maoist reprisals, said they suspected the roadblock and blast were part of a rebel effort to enforce a nationwide, weeklong general strike aimed at disrupting Wednesday's elections.

The explosion, which killed one officer and injured four others, came less than a day after senior officials met in Katmandu to review the security situation ahead of the polls, which authorities say they expect will be marred by Maoist attacks.

"The government is aware of the threats and expect some incidents to happen but the polls will be held," Information Minister Shrish Sumshere Rana said.

He said security arrangements for all 58 cities and towns were reviewed at the Sunday night meeting.

"There can be violence but we are ready and all security measures have been taken to control such activities," Rana said.

Security had already been stepped Sunday at the start of a weeklong strike called by the Maoists, who usually enforce such strikes with violence.

The rebels, who have been fighting since 1996 for a socialist state, have pledged to disrupt the election. They have been blamed for killing of at least two candidates and attacking several others, reports the AP.


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