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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 06:25 GMT
Nepalese strike against killing
Protests after the shooting
There were angry protests after the shooting
A general strike in Nepal by opposition parties protesting against the killing of 12 people by a soldier has disrupted life in the capital, Kathmandu.

Schools, shops and factories are closed and most vehicles have stayed off the roads for the day-long stoppage.

A Nepalese soldier opened fire on a crowd during a religious festival near Kathmandu on Wednesday, killing 12 people and wounding 19 others.

Both the army and the government have announced investigations.

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.

Public outcry

The BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says the killings have provoked a public outcry.

A seven party alliance of opposition parties which called the strike has held the government responsible for the incident.

The authorities have accused the parties of trying to take political advantage of the tragedy.

Reports say protests against the incident have taken place in a number of districts across the country.

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

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.

See the protests in Kathmandu

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