Police fire on protesting lawyers in Nepal's capital

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on lawyers protesting against the king's rule Thursday in Nepal's capital, wounding three of them, as demonstrations and an opposition general strike continued for an eighth day.

Two lawyers were hit with rubber bullets and one with a tear gas canister fired by police, who also used batons to beat them, said Madhav Baskota, general secretary of the Nepal Bar Association.

The United States, meanwhile, canceled a congressional visit to Nepal and allowed some embassy workers to leave the Himalayan nation after a fourth fatal shooting by security forces during increasingly violent pro-democracy demonstrations.

Dozens of lawyers were wounded after police hit them with batons while at least 70 were arrested, Baskota said.

The demonstration began when about 500 lawyers came out of the association's office in the heart of the Katmandu waving banners and shouting anti-government slogans in a campaign to get King Gyanendra to relinquish direct control over the government.

The association office is next to a compound containing all of the government ministries and across from the army headquarters.

The government has banned rallies in Katmandu and surrounding areas, and hundreds of violators have been beaten and arrested by the police since last week, when the country's alliance of seven main political parties called a general strike to demand that the king restore democracy.

The protesting lawyers managed to march a few meters (feet) when they were stopped by police who beat them up with bamboo batons, fired a few rounds of tear gas and then opened fire, reports the AP.


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