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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 02:15 GMT
Nepalese soldier shoots many dead
Suman Tamang, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed, grieves outside hospital in Bhaktapur
Relatives of the dead were stunned by what had happened
A Nepalese soldier has opened fire on a crowd near Kathmandu, killing at least 11 civilians, police say.

Another 19 were wounded in the carnage during a religious festival at a temple in Nagarkot late on Wednesday.

The army said the soldier, in civilian dress, also died, but it is not clear how. Witnesses said he sprayed locals with bullets after arguing with them.

"Bloodstains littered the entire temple," a local journalist told Reuters. "The villagers are terrified."

Both the army and the government have announced investigations.

He was not firing in the air but at the people
Local farmer Kanchha Lama

State-run radio said the government would give $2,000 in compensation to the families of the dead and pay for hospital treatment for those injured.

Protesters burned tyres outside a hospital in the nearby town of Bhaktapur where bodies of the dead were taken.

Relatives demanded the bodies be handed over for cremation, as riot police stood guard.

Abuses

Eyewitnesses said the shooting followed a brawl between locals and the soldier who opened fire.

Protests after the shooting
There were angry protests after the shooting

The area was packed with people who had gathered to mark a full moon festival at the Kalika temple in Nagarkot, a popular tourist resort about 30km (20 miles) north-east of Kathmandu.

Some reports say the soldier was drunk and had been misbehaving with local girls who were dancing.

"He returned at night with a gun and started firing," Santa Bahadur Tamang, whose 30-year-old nephew died in the shooting, told the Associated Press.

He said villagers first heard a single shot, followed by continuous firing.

Army probe

The army said the soldier was from a nearby barracks and had fired indiscriminately.

"The army has taken the incident very seriously and an investigation has been ordered," a statement said.

Officials say some of the injured are in a serious condition.

Human rights activists, who visited the scene, said elderly people, women and children were among the victims.

They said the shooting was unprovoked.

Nepal's armed forces are frequently accused of human rights abuses, and have promised to punish soldiers found guilty of committing excesses.


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