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Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Thousands mourn Nepal journalist

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Uma Singh
Ms Singh had spoken of the difficulties of working in the region.

Thousands of people have joined the funeral procession of Uma Singh, the Nepali journalist murdered in the southern city of Janakpur on Sunday.

It is still not clear who killed the reporter, who was in her mid-20s.

She had spoken about the difficulties of working in south-east Nepal, where armed groups have recently mushroomed.

Ms Singh, who was cremated by her young nephew, worked in Janakpur but other towns and villages of the south-eastern plains joined the mourning.

'Failed to help'

Local radio stations have been playing solemn music, broken only by tributes to Ms Singh and her work.

Shops, schools and transport closed down on Tuesday.

Map

Ms Singh was killed by a gang of about 15 men who attacked her at her home with sharp weapons.

Reports say her neighbours heard her cries but failed to help and that one quoted the killers as saying: "This is for writing so much".

This is not the family's first tragedy. Three years ago Uma Singh's father and brother disappeared and have never been found.

Friends say her mother and relatives blame the Maoist party for the disappearances - but it denies involvement.

In an interview last year, Ms Singh spoke of the difficulties of working as a journalist in the region.

She said reporters were always expected to "dance to the tune" of the mushrooming collection of armed groups and parties there - and that armed factions would issue death threats if news relating to them was not given priority.

She also broadcast and wrote against gender and caste discrimination.

Southern Nepal and indeed much of the country are still plagued by a state of lawlessness and impunity, five months after the Maoists started leading the government and two years after they formally ended their war.



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