Explosion at polling centre creates panic

Phidim/Jhapa, November 25

A bomb went off at Phungling-based Bhanujan Secondary School in Taplejung headquarters today. The explosion created panic among poll staffers and halted poll preparations.

The school was assigned a voting centre. As per the sources with the district police office, the explosion took place while polling staffers were making preparations for tomorrow’s election. “We were planting bamboos when something under what looked like loose soil exploded, sending all polling staffers run for life,” said polling officer Kuber Nepali.

According to DPO Taplejung information officer Homnath Thapa, the school building received minor damage. Though Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN Maoist is said to be behind the explosion, the party hasn’t owned the responsibility of the incident.

“We’re in a terrible shock after what happened and apparently can’t carry on with the preparation at the voting site until our security is guaranteed,” polling officer Nepali told THT over phone. As the loud bang has impaired hearing of most of the staffers at the venue, we have conveyed this to the office of the chief election officer and the police administration, said Nepali, adding that distribution of voter identity cards has also been halted after the incident. A large number of security personnel of Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police are deployed at the site now in the wake of the incident.

Similarly, an explosion was reported at CPN-UML chairperson KP Sharma Oli’s house in Jhapa today. According to SP Bishnu KC at the district police office, a bomb went off at the main gate of the house where Damak municipality mayor Romanath Oli is currently living. The other bomb found at the site, however, was defused by a Nepal Army bomb disposal team. Likewise, in another incident in Jhapa itself, a bomb went off at midnight yesterday at Nepali Congress Jhapa Constituency-2 parliamentary candidate Uddhav Thapa’s house in Shani Arjun Municipality. A Bolero jeep parked in the house compound was completely damaged in the midnight explosion. Thapa condemned the blast and said such acts of terror wouldn’t dissuade democratic forces from participating in the polls.

Elsewhere, an IED went off at a passengers’ lounge at the main chowk in Makawanpur’s Manahari bazaar this afternoon. It caused minor damage to the lounge but no human casualty is reported. A police team had reached the site immediately after the incident. “It was a small device kept by setting time, which later went off,” said inspector Chitra Bahadur Ghale at the Area Police Office, Manahari. The incident site was close to the venue where the left alliance had organised an election mass meeting today. Though the Chand-led CPN is doubted to have caused the blast, it is yet to be confirmed.