Protests against Nepalese King grow as 750 activists are arrested

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The Independent Online

Police used batons and tear gas to beat back stone-throwing students in the Nepalese capital on the second day of a strike called by opponents of King Gyanendra. A government minister said more than 750 pro-democracy activists had been arrested.

A post office in the capital was set on fire, and students at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan University ransacked the dean's office and briefly held several officers hostage. The students were joined in protests by ordinary workers, professionals and business owners - a sign, the opposition said, of building momentum against the King.

Of 751 people arrested over the past three days, 115 were sent to prison under a tough public safety law that allows authorities to jail people without charge for 90 days, the Home Minister, Kamal Thapa, said.

He warned that the authorities would impose curfews or declare emergency rule if needed. Clashes were also reported at a number of rallies held by the alliance of seven political parties that called the strike.

King Gyanendra called for calm in a speech broadcast live on national radio and television from Birgunj, about 125 miles south of Kathmandu. The remarks were the King's first public words about the daily protests and the escalating violence from Communist rebels. But he did not refer to the four-day strike that has left streets largely empty in Kathmandu.AP