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The BBC's Jill Givering
"Officials may have a hard time convincing people this was just an accident"
 real 56k

The BBC's Daniel Lak in Kathmandu
"Things are still tense"
 real 56k

Ronald Nash, the British Ambassador in Nepal
"There is... a serene and sad air,... the sense of shock is still there"
 real 56k

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
looks at the Nepalese royal family and their ties to the UK
 real 56k

Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Nepal left guessing on royal killings
Nepalese mourners
Feelings are running high throughout Nepal following the murders
The acting head of state in Nepal, Prince Gyanendra, has given the first official explanation of the killings on Friday of the king, queen and at least seven other members of the royal family.

In a message to the people, he said only that the deaths had occurred after the sudden discharge or explosion of an automatic weapon inside the palace.


The incident took place after an automatic weapon suddenly discharged

Prince Gyanendra
He made no reference to earlier reports - including one by the deputy prime minister - that Crown Prince Dipendra had opened fire on his family and then shot himself.

The prince regent did not say who was holding the gun at the time of the killings, nor why it went off.

New king in coma

The crown prince is now reported to be in a coma, but he has nonetheless been named king in keeping with Nepal's constitution.

Prince Gyanendra, his uncle, has been appointed regent.

A man gets his head shaven, except for a small tuft on the top of the crown, a Hindu gesture of mourning for a loved one or respected figure
Public life will cease during the five-day mourning period under way
His statement asked the Nepalese people to pray for the 29-year-old prince's speedy recovery.

It remains to be seen whether the prince's explanation of the deaths will satisfy a public experiencing both grief and anger.

The BBC's Daniel Lak, in Kathmandu, says the authorities are in a constitutional bind.

If they confirm that the new King was the man behind the massacre, he says the constitutional implications for both the monarchy and the country are dire.

Appeal for calm

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala appealed for calm after Saturday's royal funerals, during which leading politicians were booed by sections of crowds who swarmed onto the streets of the capital, Kathmandu.

Prime Minister of Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala
The prime minister says Nepal will overcome the crisis
Tens of thousands lined the route of the funeral procession, as it wound its way for 12km (seven miles) through the city to the banks of the Bagmati river for cremation.

The loss of so many members of the royal family in such horrible circumstances, and the thought that the new king was involved in killing has added to the sense of crisis.

Public life will cease completely during the five-day mourning period now under way.

Security will have to be tight, due to fears that people might be more inclined to take part in unrest or violence while normal life is suspended.

It is expected that there will be a heavy police and possibly army presence in the streets of Nepal's cities in the coming days.

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See also:

02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal royal assassin named king
02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal mourns slain king
03 Jun 01 | South Asia
Grief and disbelief grips Nepal
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