Tharu strike curbs fuel supply

KATHMANDU: Strike by Tharus has virtually cut off fuel and food supplies to the capital and other areas in the mountainous north, an official said Friday. The protesters are demanding an autonomous region in a new constitution being drafted by the country's Constituent Assembly. All the country's fuel and much of its food supply comes from India in the south and trucks must pass through the strike area to reach Kathmandu and towns to the north.

Supply Minister Rajendra Mahato told The Associated Press on Friday that fuel tankers and trucks loaded with food were stranded by the strike and that the government was struggling to move them, with a few trucks reaching Kathmandu under armed police escort.

The strike has caused a fuel shortage in Kathmandu, with hundreds of vehicles lined up outside the handful of stations still selling gasoline and diesel.

More diesel was expected to reach the capital by Saturday and more gasoline by early next week, Mahato said.

He said Kathmandu had no food shortage yet, but that prices have risen due to the strike.