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Last Updated: Monday, 28 March, 2005, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Nepal anti-king protesters held
Protesters in Nepal
The opposition urges people to join its democracy drive
Police in Nepal have arrested at least 16 people for staging anti-king protests near the central government offices in the capital, Kathmandu.

Protesters from the opposition Nepali Congress party chanted "Down with autocracy. We want democracy".

The party said more than 100 protesters had been held nationwide. Authorities have not commented but in the past have accused the opposition of exaggeration.

Protests have been banned since the king took direct power on 1 February.

Maoist threat

The Kathmandu protest was the first large-scale demonstration outside the Central Secretariat since King Gyanendra dismissed the government.

Protesters reportedly threw fliers into the streets calling on people to join the movement for the restoration of democracy.

Reports vary on the number of protesters arrested there, with some suggesting more than 40 were detained.

The king says he took direct power because politicians had failed to deal with the country's Maoist threat.

The Maoists have been fighting a nine-year armed insurgency to replace the monarchy with a communist republic.

About 11,000 people have been killed.

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