Attacks on poll candidates continue unabated

Published On: November 19, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

·    Eight including a child injured in Rautahat, six serious
·    NC senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel also targeted but unhurt
·    Two police sustained injuries in Bhojpur fire exchange

KATHMANDU, Nov 19: The nation has been reeling under threats as attacks on the election candidates continue unabated with the upcoming elections now just a week away. On Saturday, bomb attacks were carried out in Rautahat, Tanahun and Bhojpur districts targeting candidates during the poll campaign.

Eight people including a child were injured in Rautahat after an unidentified group blasted a bomb targeting a meeting of the left alliance underway near the Radha Krishna Temple in Chandrapur Municipality-5 of the district.

Six of the injured are in serious condition, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ram Kumar Dani of the District Police Office (DPO), Rautahat. Those who are critically injured have been referred to Chitwan Medical College of Bharatpur for further treatment.

The injured have been identified as Sarita Rai, her seven-year-old son Jaivik Rai, Laxmi Rai, Dil Maya Rai, Ratna BK, Kunta Khatri, Gopal BK and Yamuna Kafle, according to the DPO. BK and Kafle are getting treatment at a local health center and are said to be normal. Police have started investigation into the incident. 

In another attack, an unidentified group has targeted Nepali Congress (NC) senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel while he was en route to an election campaign in Lamjung from Tanahun. He is the parliamentary candidate of Tanahun consitutency-1. 

An explosive device was detonated at Bhanu Rural Municipality-10 of Tanahun targeting the van (Ba 13 Cha 3746) used by the NC leader, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Basanta Kunwar of the Provincial Police Office. Poudel was leaving after attending a program in Palungtar of Gorkha district. 

Much to Poudel's relief, he managed to escape the attack unscathed. SP Kunwar informed that the vehicle used by Poudel sustained minor damages. “Apart from that, no harm was done,” he added.

Security agencies said that senior political figures are being targeted as it leads to promotion of terror to the maximum extent. Just a few days ago, senior leader of CPN (Maoist Center) Narayan Kaji Shrestha was attacked in Gorkha-2. Similar attacks were carried out against former minister Barsaman Pun in Rolpa and another former minister Ram Sharan Mahat in Nuwakot. 

Poudel criticized security bodies for not being able to identify those involved in series of attacks against election candidates. “This attack against me happened due to the failure of security bodies to arrest those involved in previous attacks,” he said.  
In the third series of attacks on the same day, a bomb disposal squad of police came under fire while trying to defuse a time bomb planted in Bhir Thaplo of Khadananda Municipality-13 of Bhojpur. 

The police team eventually exchanged fire with the attackers, according to Inspector Geet Narayan Chaudhary of DPO, Bhojpur. The time bomb could not be prevented and it went off. 

Two police personnel - assistant sub-inspectors Umesh Mehta and Tek Narayan Chaudhary - have also sustained minor injuries. Bikram Rai, a local cadre of CPN-UML, has sustained injuries and is in serious condition, according to the party.

(Our correspondents Madan Thakur from Rautahat, Santosh Pokharel from Pokhara and Akson Rai from Bhojpur contributed to this report)

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