Amazing photos

Over at Flickr.com, ‘rangi changi chha’ has posted some amazing photos of Maoists who had allegedly returned from outside Kathmandu “where they had been waiting outside of the ringroad for the duration of the strike. poised for an attack on the capital that fortunately never came.”

Click here to see the photoset.

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Lukla fire in pictures

Following on from earlier reports about a fire in Lukla, we’ve now come across photos of the fire, which are shown below and originally posted on Sherpa Kyidug website.

Lukla fire Lukla fire

Lukla fire Lukla fire

Lukla fire Lukla fire

Lukla fire Lukla fire

Lukla fire Lukla fire

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UK Relaxes Travel Advisory to Nepal

THT Online
Kathmandu, May 4

Britain on Thursday relaxed its advice on travel to Nepal, saying it was no longer advising its citizens to avoid the troubled Himalayan kingdom, AFP reported.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned British nationals against “all but essential travel” to Nepal late last month as a series of violent demonstrations and strikes raged against King Gyanendra’s absolute monarchy.

The ministry said that following the embattled monarch’s April 24 announcement to reinstate parliament, tensions had eased.
But the FCO’s online travel advice still warned: “Although the situation in Kathmandu has improved, the security situation remains uncertain and could change rapidly.

“We advise you to remain vigilant and avoid any demonstrations and large gatherings. We will continue to keep this advice under close review.”

Nepal rebels agree to peace talks

BBC News reporting

Maoist rebels in Nepal have welcomed a government ceasefire offer and said they are ready to enter peace talks.

A statement from rebel leader Prachanda called the indefinite truce a “positive step”. The rebels announced their own three-month ceasefire last week.

“We hope that the peace talks will not fail this time,” Prachanda said. Talks broke down in 2001 and 2003.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in Nepal since the rebels began their fight for a republic in 1996.

US Embassy’s Consular Section to Reopen From May 1

The U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section will provide certain services as of May 1 and will return to full operations by May 15. The American Center Library also will reopen on May 1. Both the Consular Section and Library are located in the Yak & Yeti Complex (west wing). They were closed April 19 because of unstable security conditions in Kathmandu.

Full press release
Previous US embassy news

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Fire breaks out in Lukla bazaar; 4 hotels gutted

By Chakra Karki

LUKLA, April 27 – A fire that broke out at a house here in Lukla bazaar Thursday morning has completely destroyed more than half a dozen houses, including four hotels.

The blaze that broke out at around 7:15 a.m. at the house of Pasang Tamang, a local resident of Lukla bazaar, completely destroyed four luxury resorts.

Police and local residents could bring the fire under control only at around 11:15 a.m.

According to the preliminary report, property worth Rs. 70 million was destroyed.

Sonam Lodge, South Cole Garden Lodge, Doreji Sherpa Garden Lodge and Pasang Lama’s lodge were completely destroyed in the fire.

Proprietor of Sonam Lodge claimed that Rs. 2 million in cash was brunt to ashes in the flame.

Similarly, Pasang Tamang claimed that Rs.1.8 million in cash was completely burnt in the fire.

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Maoists announce ceasefire for 3 months

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, April 27 – Hours after calling off a crippling blockade of the capital and all district headquarters, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on Wednesday announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months with immediate effect.

In a statement, Maoist Chairman Prachanda said, “Our party once again, through this statement, announces a unilateral ceasefire for three months with immediate effect.”

The Maoists had announced a similar truce in September last year and later extended it by a month.

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Transportation services return to normal

Nepal News report

After nearly three weeks of disruption due to the general strike called by the seven opposition parties, vehicular movement resumed along major highways around the country from Wednesday.

Officials at the traffic police post at Nagdhunga said 113 passenger buses left Kathmandu for districts until 2:00 p.m. today while few trucks and microbuses were also seen on the highway.

A number of buses and cargo trucks entered the capital from western and eastern districts, they said and informed the traffic, however, could not fully resume as the highway blockade called by the Maoists was still in place until morning.

The CPN (Maoist) in a statement this afternoon announced to call off the blockade in the Kathmandu Valley and the highways around the country until Friday.

In the capital, vehicular traffic was normal despite reports of fuel shortage. There were very few public buses and micro-buses on Tuesday but the transportation returned to normal from today.

Meanwhile, transportation services resumed in the mid-western district of Dang from today after weeks of halt due to obstructions created by the Maoists. Reports said vehicles started plying on highways after the rebels cleared the roadblocks they had placed at different places.

Vehicular movement resumed in the east-west highway as well, reports said.

However, vehicular traffic could not resume along the Arniko Highway today. The highway that links the Kathmandu Valley to Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre and Ramechhap districts could not open because of the Maoist blockade, officials at the Arniko Highway Bus Entrepreneurs Committee said.

“There was Maoist blockade till morning so buses could not ply on the highway. Transportation will resume from tomorrow,” Makar Shrestha of the Committee informed Nepalnews, adding that lengthy disruption in services has caused losses worth tens of millions of rupees.

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Maoists temporarily lift blockade

The Maoists have withdrawn their blockade until Friday, threatening to reinstate it if a constituent assembly is not announced.

Maoists lift blocakade

SPA protests called off

After nearly three weeks of intensifying protests, a breakthrough has been reached in the political situation which has led to the protests being called off. Rallies are being held across Nepal to mark a ‘victory’ against the king. Mobile phone services have also resumed in the Kathmandu Valley.

While this means that the situation can improve somewhat in Nepal (especially around Kathmandu), the Maoists have remained cautious to the announcement. They have vowed to continue bloackades of roads across the country and a wave of protests by their cadres until their goal of constituent assembly elections is achieved. Remain concious of this, and the disruption it could cause, while travelling (or planning a trip) in Nepal. Although, as ever, it must be clarified that tourists are generally not the intended target of Maoists ‘actions’ and if you are travelling in a clearly marked tourist vehicle you should be OK.

Remember to check out the following pages:

  • General Summary
  • Encountering Maoists
  • Recommendations/Advice
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    King Gyanendra makes an announcement

    In a significant move King Gyanendra has announced the restoration of Nepal’s House of Representatives. It is unclear how this will affect the scheduled protest tomorrow or the indeed the ongoing protest movement. If the protestors and parties do not accept the gesture the protests will certainly continue.

    More reaction and effects of this soon.

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    Non-emergency US embassy staff, families ordered to depart Nepal

    The State Department today (April 24) ordered all non-emergency U.S. mission personnel and dependents to depart Nepal. This decision, made at the recommendation of the Embassy, was taken out of concern for the safety of U.S. Government employees and their families.

    Ambassador James F. Moriarty, who informed the Mission community of the Embassy’s recommendation, also is recommending that all American citizens in Nepal should consider leaving the country at this time because of the uncertain security conditions.

    On April 12, the State Department had authorized voluntary departure for non-emergency Mission staff and families. Non-emergency Mission staff and families must now depart the country as ordered.

    The U.S. Mission includes the Embassy, its Consular Section and American Center in the Yak & Yeti Hotel (both closed until further notice), and USAID.

    The Embassy Travel Warning for Nepal is available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_927.html and/or via the Embassy website at http://nepal.usembassy.gov

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    Massive demonstration in Kathmandu announced

    An ambitious protest is to be staged on Tuesday 25th April. The SPA has announced that it will have approximately two million people on the Ring Road, around the periphery of Kathmandu. Futhermore, the leaders of the parties which make up the SPA will be participating according to reports.

    This is likely to become a volatile situation, especially if there are attempts to break up the protest or arrest the leaders of the parties and as with other protests, it is best to avoid it altogther.

    Top SPA leaders to spearhead Tuesday’s demonstration in capital (Kantipur Online)
    SPA Plans Huge Demo on Tuesday (Himalayan Times)

    ****Latest****
    King Gyanendra makes an announcement

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    Another curfew

    Yep, another one, 9am-8pm in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.

    At a guess it’d be wise to say that a similar curfew will be announced daily as long as the protests continue at the present levels.

    More protests

    After a rejection of King Gyanendra’s offer to return power to the political parties there are more demonstrations in central Kathmandu.

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    Mobile Phones Disconnected in Kathmandu

    THT Online
    Kathmandu, April 22

    Authorities cut mobile phone services in the Katmandu Valley this afternoon, a telecommunications official said.

    An official at the state-owned telecommunication company, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the government had ordered all mobile phone services suspended, and it was not clear when they would be restored. Last time authorities disconnected the mobile services on April 8 and resumed the services later.

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    More curfew…

    12pm – 8pm Curfew Imposed in Kathmandu, Lalitpur

    More here

    Curfew extended (again!)

    Curfew Extended till Midnight in Kathmandu, Lalitpur

    See here

    Reminder: NTB operating shuttle bus service

    The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has said that it has arranged shuttle bus service for tourists and other passengers arriving at and departing from Tribhuvan International Airport on Thursday during the day-time curfew imposed by the government to thwart the major showdown of political parties.

    A press statement issued by the NTB said the shuttle bus will operate from 6 a.m. till the last international flight.

    The shuttle bus will operate in three different routes as follows.

    Route 1
    Airport -RNAC -Newroad -Hotel Annapurna -Thamel Chowk -Kathmandu Guesthouse-Lainchour Chowk- Hotel Shanker -Hotel Ambassador -Airport

    Route 2
    Airport -Hotel Radisson -Hotel Shangrila -Narayan Gopal Chowk -Maharajganj Chowk -Hyatt Regency -Chabahil Chowk -Hotel Dwarika- Airport

    Route 3
    Airport- Tinkune Chowk -Hotel Everest- Maitighar Chowk- Hotel Himalaya – Jawalakhel – Hotel Soaltee – Hotel – Grand – Airport

    NTB has asked concerned persons to contact its Media Center at 4225709 or Tourist Police at 4247041, if they need further information.

    Issuing separate notices, local administrations of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktpur clamped down an 18-hour long curfew from 2.00 a.m. on Thursday morning to 8.00 p.m. in the evening.

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    Curfew

    On Thursday 20th April there will be a curfew in place between 2am and 8pm in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.

    According to a Kathmandu resident posting on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum, domestic flights have also been cancelled for tomorrow in solidarity with the protests.

    More as the news becomes apparent.

    UPDATE: 2 am – 8 pm Curfew Imposed in Kathmandu, Lalitpur

    THT Online

    Kathmandu, April 19 – The government has imposed curfew in the capital coming into effect from 2:00 am till 8:00 pm on Thursday.

    Issuing separate notices, the district administration offices of Kathmandu and Lalitpur have imposed a curfew within the Ring Road and 200 metres outside the Ring Road areas in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.

    Residents should not come out of their houses. Security forces could shoot violators or police could arrest them and jail them up to one month,” the notices said.

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    Tourists participating in a protest

    These images are from the excellent, and highly recommended, Phalano.com.

    Phalano.com
    Tourists also protested in Thamel (by Narendra Shrestha)

    Phalano.com
    Tourists also protested in Thamel (by Prakash Mathema)

    Phalano.com
    Tourists also protested in Thamel (by Narendra Shrestha)

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    Tourists find strife-torn Nepal is not so tranquil (Reuters)
    A handful of tourists have their say, staging pro-democracy protest in Nepal (CANOE Travel News/AP)

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    Day Curfew in Pokhara on Wednesday

    There will be a daytime curfew tomorrow in Pokhara between 8am and 7pm.

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    US Embassy Demonstration Alert

    The US Embassy has up to date information about demonstrations on
    this page. Here is the latest alert:

    Since April 6, the Kathmandu Valley has seen sporadic protests, particularly around the Ring Road. Over the past few days, the most violent demonstrations have occurred in areas such as Bhotahiti, Gongabu, Maitighar, Boudha, Chahabil, New Baneshwor, Sanepa, Kalanki, Jawalakel, Kirtipur, Bhaktapur, and Banepa. Demonstrations may occur at any place and at any time, however, and Americans are advised to keep away from large crowds, to tune into local media for updates on the security situation, and to maintain a low profile. Protests also are occurring in towns outside of Kathmandu, and blockades of major roads in and out of the Kathmandu Valley mean travel is limited. Visitors are reminded that during government-imposed curfews, they must stay indoors and off the streets.

    The Seven Party Alliance has announced transportation and business strikes all over Nepal from April 15, with a major rally along the Ring Road area planned for April 20. Reports on April 18 indicated demonstrations in the Kalanki, Boudha, Chabahil, Baneshwor and Thankot areas of Kathmandu, but demonstrations may occur at any place, at any time.

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    Attack on vehicle for tourists condemned

    KATHMANDU, Apr. 13: Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) has condemned the agitators’ attack on a vehicle carrying tourists on Thursday morning while it was on its way to Kathmandu from Dhulikhel.

    “No tourist suffered any injury on the attack but the vehicle was damaged,” the NATTA said quoting vehicle owner Shashi Ram Bhandari, managing director of Shashi’s Holidays International.

    The NATTA said in a press statement that the vehicle was attacked although it bore a banner “Tourists Only”.

    It also asked the agitators not to vandalise tourists carriers.

    The Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Thursday expressed worry over the havoc in daily life and the economic activities that came to a standstill due to general strike and curfew.

    The CNI asked all concerned sectors to hold talks and find out a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    It said in a press statement that sustainable democracy was a precondition for maintaining liberal economy that ideally woks towards poverty alleviation and equitable society.

    Likewise, Nepal Freight Forwarders Association (NEFFA) has urged all the concerned parties to sit for talks and find a peaceful solution.

    It said that democratic system was essential to strengthen the economy of the country.

    Nepal Foreign Trade Association (NFTA) also asked the conflicting parties to solve the problem through dialogue on the basis of democratic values. “The strikes, curfews, repression and biases are not the right measures to solve the problem,” it said in a press statement.

    It expressed worries over deteriorating condition of trade and industry due to intensified conflict.

    Bagmati Zone Transport Entrepreneurs Coordination Council has asked the agitating political parties and government to hold talks for the restoration of democracy and permanent peace.

    It said in a press statement that no business would flourish without permanent peace in the country.

    “The transport sector has suffered the most in absence of peace,” it said.

    The Rising Nepal

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    Earlier this year the NATTA introduced insurance for tourists and trekkers which sounds ideal if you can’t get insurance because your government has advised against travel to Nepal. Check it out here but do remember to make sure you read the small print and exclusions.

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    2 foreign docs treating injured deported

    Kantipur Report

    KATHMANDU, April 14 – The government on Thursday deported two foreign doctors treating injured demonstrators in course of the ongoing movement in the capital.

    A Nepali news website – www.parewa.com – reported that a German doctor identified only as “Angel” had been treating the injured. The government has cancelled his visa for the remaining period of its validity, the website said. Likewise, Dr Brian Cobb, an American doctor who was asked by the government to leave the country, took a 12:00 o’clock flight out, said Pradip Thapa of Ashoka Hotel where the doctor was staying since April 5. According to The New York Times, police on Wednesday detained for six hours, under circumstances that remain a mystery, Dr Cobb, who could be seen treating the injured by setting up makeshift facilities over the past week. On Tuesday, Dr Cobb had accused senior police officer Madhav Thapa of beating him along with many others and “gouging out one man’s eye with the end of a lathi”.

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    Government propels out foreign doctors

    […] According to news reports, police arrested Dr Cobb from Gangabu on Wednesday and detained for six hours. He was not allowed to inform the American embassy while under detention. He was released on condition that he would present at the immigration department on Thursday. He told reporters that the police treated him like ‘criminal’.

    He was severely beaten by Senior Superintendent of Armed Police Force Madhav Thapa on Tuesday while he was providing treatment to the injured demonstrators and police personnel in Gangabu. He had claimed that Thapa gouge out eye of one to the demonstrators with his baton on that day. […]

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    US mission stops visas, cuts staff

    Kantipur Report

    KATHMANDU, April 13 – The US mission in Kathmandu, in order to scale back its activities – including at the embassy, USAID and the consular section and American Center at Yak & Yeti Hotel – has gone to minimal staffing, a statement issued by the American Center said here Wednesday.

    With the closure of the consular section until further notice, no one will be issued a visa. An American Center source said that the exercise for this was going on for the past few days. Similarly, the American Center library has also been closed until further notice.

    Meanwhile, the US mission canceled a planned visit Wednesday by an eight-member delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives “due to ongoing violence, curfews, and widespread insecurity in Nepal”.

    The delegation, led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J Dennis Hastert (R-IL), wanted to visit Kathmandu Wednesday till Friday to review developments here and meet representatives of the government, political parties and civil society.

    The Congressional delegation, currently in India, is also scheduled to visit Vietnam.

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    You can check the latest news on the US Embassy’s webpage, here.

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    Nine Tourists Held, Freed in Kathmandu

    Police arrested nine tourists from Narsingha Chowk of Thamel on Tuesday afternoon while they were demonstrating for peace in Nepal and demanding the lifting of curfew.

    Police said they had to arrest them because they had violated curfew orders. The arrested tourists were identified as Johannis Jappen, Be Van Vark, Daniel Axenfeld, Robat Valeutinj of Germany, Einata Almog of Israel, Kate Miller, Anthony Wakins, Dan French of UK and Mikhril Tselmrn of Russia. They were released from the Sohrakhutte ward police station at around 8:30 pm.

    About 24 tourists were demonstrating at the chowk, police said, adding that many were asked to go back to their hotels. The tourists were demanding the lifting of curfew and urging all parties to resolve the crisis through talks.

    Himalayan Times

    Phalano.com
    Phalano.com
    phalano.com

    All images from Phalano.com

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    A piece of advice to tourists in Nepal

    Today I read, that following yesterday’s beating of a Japanese tourist, other foreign tourists conducted a candle-light march through Pokhara.  Now, this attack was not the first instance the police have beaten a foreigner – in January another tourist was beaten and arrested following a protest in Kathmandu – and I don’t expect it to be the last.

    Yes the strikes and curfews are annoying, yes they are going to disrupt your plans and yes many Nepalis are breaking curfew.  But please get real, the situation is very serious. If there are more plans for tourists to organise further protests or to get involved in protests organised by the Nepalis please realise that this could not only going to change the dynamics of the relationship between tourists and the security forces but also the relationship between tourists and a significant proportion of Nepalis who are not affiliated with the political parties and/or do not support either the protests or the curfews.

    I suggest those who are thinking of joining or organising further protests to please consider this point very carefully and also remember not all tourists are prepared to take a lathi charge by group of police.
    merosansar.com.np
    Police beating a Nepali citizen.  Picture from Merosansar

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    Cops Attack Japanese Tourist in Pokhara

    Security personnel on Sunday evening beat up a Japanese tourist at Lakeside of Pokhara. Toksang, 46, putting up at Hotel Jio situated near was going to a restaurant for dinner when the policemen attacked him.

    Hotel owner Govinda Bahadur Pahari and his daughter Pratigya were also beaten up when they tried to stop the security men from beating up the tourist. The Japanese tourist, however, said that the incident was an accident and wished for quick restoration of peace in Nepal.

    Himalayan Times

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    Night-time curfew extended in Kathmandu

    Local authorities have extended night-time curfew in the capital, Kathmandu, by two hours.

    According to officials, the night-time curfew will remain in force from 10:00 p. m. Monday till 4:00 a. m. on Tuesday. Earlier, the curfew hours were fixed between 11:00 p. m. till 3:00 a. m. the next day.

    The authorities have extended curfew hours during bight by two hours though they had reduced the day-time curfew hours by almost half. Night-time curfew remains in force for the last one week.

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