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Published:April 9th, 2008 09:00 EST

Killings in Nepal shock UN Envoy

By SOP newswire

New York, NY--The top United Nations official in Nepal has called on all parties to exercise restraint after at least seven people died in two separate incidents on the eve of Constituent Assembly elections in the South Asian nation.

In a statement issued today in Kathmandu, the Secretary-General`s Special Representative for Nepal, Ian Martin, said he was "deeply shocked" by the deaths.

At least six members of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) were killed and several others injured as a result of firing by security personnel in Dang district.  The second incident involved the shooting death of CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) candidate Rishi Prasad Sharma.

"All parties should exercise restraint and avoid provocations of one another, including detention of party workers," said Mr. Martin.

He added that "personnel against whom there is reasonable suspicion of excessive use of force or political partiality should be suspended while there is an investigation independent of their chain-of-command."

A team from the UN Mission in Nepal, UNMIN,, is already on the scene investigating the events in Dang, while another is travelling to the site of Mr. Sharma`s killing. The Mission is coordinating its probe with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR,, and with the newly-formed Peace and Conflict Management Committee.

Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonstressed that Nepal`s leaders have "a critical responsibility to ensure that voters can freely exercise their democratic right in a secret ballot, without fear of violence, intimidation or manipulation."

He added that the Constituent Assembly election is a "historic milestone for the people of Nepal," and so much hinges on its success.

Once elected, Assembly members are tasked with drafting a new constitution in Nepal, which has emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Governments and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006.