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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Appeal for calm after Nepal riots
Jama mosque
Protesters attacked Kathmandu's Jama mosque
Nepal's prime minister has appealed for calm following violent protests in the capital against the killing of 12 Nepalese hostages in Iraq.

Sher Bahadur Deuba called for restraint in a nationwide address on state radio.

An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Kathmandu after angry mobs attacked a mosque and offices. Police say one protester has died in the violence.

Many in Nepal are blaming the government for not doing enough to secure the release of the hostages.

I call upon all citizens of Nepal to have patience - we made honest efforts to save them but the militants never spelt out their conditions
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba

In his address, Mr Deuba said no community should be targeted over the killings of the Nepalis.

Opposition leaders have also appealed for calm, as has the king.

The authorities say three others were wounded in clashes with police after they defied the curfew order.

Reports say the situation in Kathmandu and surrounding districts remains tense.

Correspondents say it is the first time in living memory that the Muslim minority has been targeted in Nepal.

Mosque attacked

Nepal's government confirmed the deaths after images on a website showed one man being beheaded and 11 shot dead.

The news was received with anger and grief in Nepal, with one official describing it as "one of the worst days" in his country's history.

The government did not do enough to get their release
Sudarshan Khadka
Victim's brother

Thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Kathmandu on Wednesday, with the security forces struggling to control the situation.

Riot police used batons and teargas to push back an angry mob which attacked the Jama mosque in central Kathmandu.

"We want revenge," demonstrators shouted as they stormed the mosque, which was empty at the time.

"Demonstrators entered the mosque, threw stones and partially damaged it," the Reuters news agency quoted police official Binod Singh as saying.

Protesters stoned the labour department building in Kathmandu, shattering windows and damaging equipment.

Pictures of the bodies shown on the website
The bodies shown on an Islamic website
They also targeted agencies which recruited Nepalese workers for the Middle East, as well as two Arab airline offices.

Burning tyres have been placed at major intersections, blocking traffic.

Nepalese Muslim groups have condemned the killings, saying the "inhuman act is against Islam".

Government blamed

The government is being heavily criticised for doing little to free the hostages and there have been calls for the prime minister to step down.

The English language Kathmandu Post newspaper said the militants who had killed the hostages were simply "terrorists who have camouflaged themselves in the masks of Islam".

It said the government had failed to take concrete steps to secure the hostages' release.

The government denies the criticism and has condemned the incident as a "barbarian act of terrorism".

It pressed the international community to hunt down the killers.

Relatives of Ramesh Khadka one of the hostages killed in Iraq
Grief-stricken relatives are trying to come to terms with their tragedy
The families of the 12 victims are grief-stricken and in shock.

"The government did not do enough to get their release," said Sudharshan Khadka, whose brother Ramesh was one of the victims.

The government said it would take action against agencies illegally sending people to Iraq.

Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, has banned its citizens from going to Iraq, despite the relatively well-paid jobs there.

The militants said the 12 Nepalis had been killed because they "came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians".


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Loyn
"The army has imposed a curfew in Kathmandu ... in an effort to quell the violence"



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