ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Nepal king's motorcade stoned

KATHMANDU, Saturday (Reuters) - The motorcade of Nepal's King Gyanendra was stoned as the monarch drove to a pilgrimage site in the capital to celebrate a Hindu festival on Friday but he was not hurt, officials and witnesses said.

The attack was the first of its kind in Nepal where the monarch was traditionally regarded as an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu but has become unpopular since King Gyanendra took power only to be forced down by weeks of violent protests last year.

The 59-year-old monarch was on his way to the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to pray on the occasion of “Mahashivratri” when crowds hurled stones at his motorcade as it neared the venue, they said.

The stones hit one car accompanying King Gyanendra's vehicle before the heavily-guarded convoy made it to the temple where the monarch worshipped on the annual “grand night” festival of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

The crowd also shouted “Gyanendra thief, leave the country” as a power shutdown plunged the area into darkness, Ishwar Dhakal, a witness said.

Police said the crowd was baton-charged before the king was driven back to the palace safely.

King Gyanendra has been isolated since he gave in to mass protests last year, stripped of most of his powers including the control of the powerful army and is rarely seen in public.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.