February 25, 2019 06:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Feb 25: Leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) led by Netra Bikram Chand on Sunday claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks targeting Ncell office and telecommunication towers across the country including one in Lalitpur which killed one person and injured two others.
Confirming the party's involvement in the Lalitpur blast, a CPN leader overseeing party's activities in the capital told Republica that the party targeted the Ncell corporate office amid dillydallying by the telecommunications company to pay the capital gains taxes. The Supreme Court had recently ordered Ncell to pay Rs 38 billion capital gains tax to the government.
A CPN leader overseeing party's activities in the capital told Republica that the party targeted the Ncell corporate office amid dillydallying by the telecommunications company to pay the capital gains taxes.
“The protest was carried out on the instruction of the party's central command,” said the leader. The leader spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.
In an interview with the BBC on Sunday evening, CPN leader Hemanta Prakash Oli claimed responsibility for all the attacks targeted at Ncell, but expressed sadness over the loss of a life. He, however said that the party would continue its struggle for establishing 'a parallel government'.
CPN leaders claimed responsibility for the attacks hours after Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, citing intelligence reports, revealed the former rebel's party's involvement in the bomb explosions.
“We have received reports of their [CPN] involvement in the attacks. The party had carried out similar bomb attacks in the past. They have been resorting to such violent means in the name of forming a parallel state,” Thapa told lawmakers during a briefing at the state management committee of the parliament.
During the meeting, Minister Thapa had vowed to punish those responsible for the attacks and promised medical treatment and financial support to the victims of the Lalitpur bomb explosion.
The bomb that went off on Friday night at Nakhkhu in Lalitpur was one of the several Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted around Ncell offices or transmission towers across the country. Nepal Police spokesman Uttam Rj Subedi said that similar IEDs were planted in around 15 places across the country, targeting Ncell offices and transmission towers.
Friday's explosions are the latest in a series of attacks carried out by CPN cadres targeting hydropower plants, Ncell towers and other big businesses. Since the federal and parliamentary polls, CPN had planted bombs in more than two dozen places including Chitwan, Damak, Hetuda, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Morang, according to officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Police said that six different people, some of them cadres of CPN, are being interrogated in connection with the Lalitpur incident. Nepal Police spokesman Subedi said that police, despite traces of involvement of political party, was treating Lalipur incident as criminal cases.
“This is purely a criminal case. Those involved in the crime would be punished irrespective of their political affiliations,” said Subedi.
Several offshoots of former Maoist rebels, notably one led by Chand, have been regularly targeting big businesses and extorting money. Since Chand formed his own party after splitting away from the Mohan Baidya-led CPN Maoist in 2014, big businesses have been complaining of extortion from the party.
Friday's attacks have brought back memories of the decade-long Maoist insurgency when such explosions used to occur on a regular basis. Experts say that the recent attacks on businesses, especially those being developed with foreign investment, might discourage foreign direct investment at a time when the government seems to be wooing foreigners to invest in Nepal.