Panauti folks still terrified

Kavre, February 7:

“We were having our dinner when the sounds of blasts started rocking the bazaar,” said Sita Ram Acharya, a resident of Panauti. “We thought our own houses were being bombed. We didn’t even think we would live through this ordeal.”

The Panauti residents were thinking more of saving their lives than any other thing during the Maoist attack at Panauti municipality and the security forces’ base camp last night.

The firing and explosions that started after 8:30 pm left Panauti residents terrified.

Two security personnel, one civilian and two Maoists were killed in the incident. Panauti municipality office was destroyed completely. The premises of the devastated municipality office and Panauti bazaar looked like a battlefield.

“We didn’t even sleep a wink the whole night,” Sudhir Sapkota said, “the whole of our family hid on the top floor.”

The locals, who had only heard of such clashes, were shell-shocked and couldn’t even recount the last night’s details.

“We thought the Maoists targeted the whole bazaar area but later found out that they only targeted the municipality office,” local Jay Ram Karmacharya said adding, “I thought yesterday was the last day of my life.”

The Maoists had attacked on Panauti municipality office from roofs of the houses at the bazaar. The telephone and electricity lines in the bazaar area were seen dangling in the roads from the poles. Windowpanes of over a dozen houses were shattered during the clash.

The locals said they spent all night hiding out under their beds and staircases. “I went to my neighbour’s house during the crossfire, as my house was very close to the municipality building,” elderly Deep Narayan Tamrakar said.

The crossfire continued till 4:30 am this morning but the Panauti residents couldn’t even look out of their windows till 8 am. They started coming out of their houses only after the security forces returned at around 10 am.

Not only Panauti bazaar, the bullet shells had reached the neighbouring village as well, Kharibot resident Pradeep KC said. “The incident was unimaginable to us,” local businessman Rajesh Kumar Karki said.

Ganesh Lal Shrestha, resident of Panauti municipality-6 and porter by profession was killed in the incident.

He was leaving for his home when he was caught in the crossfire. The family members of the deceased said no one would gain anything by killing innocent people.