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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 April, 2004, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Pro-democracy protest rocks Nepal

By Charles Haviland
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu

Police chasing demonstrators in Kathmandu
It is the third day running that the capital has seen protests
For the third day running the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, is witnessing large pro-democracy demonstrations.

Thousands of opposition supporters and students are massing in groups to converge in a big rally later.

They have already set up barricades and started scuffling with the police, while plumes of smoke can be seen rising on the horizon.

There has been political deadlock in Nepal since last year, when the king assumed executive powers.

Scattered around Kathmandu, tyres and wood are being burnt and used with broken bits of wall and fence to barricade the roads.

Eyewitnesses have seen buses, cars and motorcycles burning as well.

Chanting opposition supporters have been roaming the streets, ordering motor vehicles to stop and businesses to pull down their shutters which virtually all have done.

The strike call comes after Friday's violent protests in which dozens were injured, though none seriously.

Growing tension

Saturday's demonstrators are currently in pockets around the city, ranged against groups of sometimes nervous looking policemen who have set up their own barbed wire blockades by areas like the Royal Palace, which are off limits.

The constant chant is simply "Democracy" with slogans against King Gyanendra, who 18 months ago suspended parliament.

The mood seems to be growing more tense by the minute.

Many ordinary people are disaffected by the showdown between the appointed government and its opponents.

One told the BBC it is exactly what the Maoists want, referring to the Communist guerrillas who are gaining control of increasing swathes of the countryside.

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