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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Police open fire on Nepal lawyers
Protesting lawyers in Kathmandu
The lawyers were the latest to join the protests against the king
Police in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, have opened fire on a group of lawyers protesting against King Gyanendra.

Three of the lawyers have been wounded - one of them in the head - and at least 50 in the group are said to have been arrested.

Security forces across Nepal have killed four protesters so far amid a wave of demonstrations by opponents of the king, who seized power in 2005.

The police have been accused of using excessive force against the protesters.

Wave of unrest

Some 200 lawyers took part in the anti-monarchy rally in the centre of Kathmandu, in defiance of a ban on such demonstrations in the city.

Long live the democratic republic! Down with autocracy!
Protesters' chants

Police opened fire and used teargas and batons to break up the protests.

Eyewitnesses say the police severely beat the president of the Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, and a number of other leading lawyers.

Hundreds of lawyers, journalists and other professionals have been arrested over the past week in addition to opposition activists.

They have all been part of a week-long pro-democracy protest against King Gyanendra.

The monarch, who was in the resort town of Pokhara, has now returned to Kathmandu.

He has made no public comment on the protests, but is due to make a traditional address on Friday.

Criticism

The king has faced severe international criticism, from countries including the US and Nepal's neighbour India.

On Wednesday, Delhi said the crisis could be resolved only through a genuine process of dialogue and reconciliation.

"The resort to repressive measures by the government in Nepal can only undermine prospects for this process," a foreign office spokesman said.

On Tuesday, more than 100 anti-monarchy protesters were injured, some severely, in clashes with security forces.

The United Nations human rights office in Kathmandu criticised the police action on Tuesday, describing it as an excessive use of force.

Many of the protesters received head, limb and abdomen injuries as police used rubber bullets, teargas and batons to push back the stone-throwing crowds.




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Scenes on the streets of Nepal since the curfew was lifted




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