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Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Grief and disbelief grip Nepal
Nepalese supporters of the royal family carry portraits of King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya in Kathmandu
Hundreds of men roam the streets on motorcycles
By Daniel Lak in Kathmandu

Shock, grief, horror, disbelief and possibly denial: these are the reactions of many ordinary Nepalese to the loss of a revered king and many members of his immediate family in the events of Friday night.


All of the news reports still seem unreal and unbelievable

PR consultant Kapil Tamot
A long, slightly complicated period of official mourning has been declared.

Government offices, schools and businesses are to be closed for five days.

The nation has been invited to observe the Hindu custom of mourning the loss of a loved one for 13 days.

Men who are either senior government servants or relatives of the deceased have shaved their heads - another mark of grief in Hindu tradition.

Spontaneous shows of grief

In the centre of the city, long queues of people clutching flowers stood in front of the Naryanhiti palace where Friday's killings took place.

An impromptu shrine inside the gates was heaped with irises and lilies.

A Nepalese man prays in front of portraits of King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya in Kathmandu
Impromptu shrines have appeared in Kathmandu
Nearby, in the middle of a busy intersection, a large portrait of the slain king and his wife was also festooned with flowers put there by members of the public.

Each person would mutter a short prayer before backing away and going about their business.

A few processions, mainly of young men, walked the streets chanting slogans in favour of the late king and queen.

About 400 shaven-headed men roamed the streets around the palace on motorcycles, carrying pictures of the monarch.

They were applauded by crowds waiting outside the palace.

No official confirmation

All of the day's newspapers have extensive coverage of the deaths, and eulogies to the late King Birendra.

In a front-page editorial, the English-language Kathmandu Post calls on readers to "do justice to a slain leader" if Nepal is not to "stumble on its path to strengthen democracy and constitutional monarchy".

Nepalese shave their heads to mourn for the death of their king and queen in Kathmandu
The nation is to observe a mourning period of 13 days
The newspapers refer to reports of the new king's alleged involvement in the killings, but they point out there has been no official confirmation.

Privately, many journalists and editors say they still consider the reports credible, but without a named government spokesperson or police officer echoing what "reliable sources" are saying, they are helpless to shed much light on the matter.

Young middle-class and educated Nepalese say e-mails have been pouring from friends all over the world, some repeating outlandish rumours that are circulating in expatriate Nepalese communities in other lands.

"It is obvious, they just want to know what is really going on. All of the news reports still seem unreal and unbelievable," said public relations consultant Kapil Tamot.


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02 Jun 01 | South Asia
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