UN paints grim picture of countrys security situation

KATHMANDU: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has painted a bleak picture of the safety and security situation of the country, particularly in the Tarai region thanks to the mushrooming small armed outfits.

A report covering the January 1-31 period, OCHA said the January 26 abduction and murder of VDC secretary Indra Bahadur Shrestha by Tarai Jatantrik Mukti Morcha Madhes cadres in Banke's Seetapur VDC had sent a shock wave to the general public and government officials. As a result, all VDC secretaries deployed in the district fled to Nepalgunj to take refuge, further limiting the government's reach.

Likewise, Tarai Mukti Morcha cadres reportedly killed three UCPN-M cadres in Bara district on January 6, and seriously injured two others. In response to the incident, UCPN-M called an indefinite bandh in Bara, Parsa and Rautahat districts, demanding martyr-status for the deceased, compensation to the families of the deceased, treatment of the injured free of cost and action against the perpetrators. "The bandh adversely affected daily life for people in the three districts," said the latest monthly report.

The report added that clashes between members of the the UML-affiliated Youth Force and UCPN-M-affiliated Young Communist League in Surkhet district, and the confrontation between political parties in Kalikot district, had further reflected the continued fragile law and order situation in parts of the mid- and far-western regions.

During the period, a number of armed groups and underground outfits, many with affiliations to political parties, have stepped up extortionist demands, targeting in particular industrialists and businessmen in Sunsari and Morang districts.

According to those targeted, groups are demanding at least Rs 200,000 in the eastern region, and local media report of a growing fear and suspicion among businessmen and industrialists in the area. "The Ministry of Home Affairs ordered heightened security at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, following warnings from India that Al-Qaeda-linked militants were plotting to hijack planes in South Asia prior to the Commonwealth Games, to be held in India in October 2010," said the report.

Police and army personnel deployed to the airport are undertaking extra security measures in line with the "high alert" advisory, leading to longer waits for passengers. India had issued warnings for all its international flights and intensified security checks at airports.