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French tourists drive over landmine in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 26 (AFP) – A French family escaped unharmed after a landmine planted by Maoist rebels in Nepal partly destroyed their vehicle, a home ministry official said Thursday.

The couple and their two children, aged five and eight, were caught up in the incident Wednesday at Jhalari, near the town of Mahendranagar in Kanchanpur district, in the Himalayan nation’s south-west.

The names of the man and his children were not known but his wife was identified as Angele le Vreux, home ministry spokesman Gopendra Bahadur Pandey said.

“The French tourists had come to Mahendranagar from Banbasa in India in the course of a world tour,” he said.

“Parts of the vehicle were destroyed in the blast .. but all four members of the Le Vreux family were unhurt and are in good shape.”

Pandey added: “Our immigration officials at the entry in Mahendranagar had warned them not to travel towards Nepal due to the five-day nationwide general strike called by the rebels but they ignored the warning.”

The family, who had begun their tour in Tehran and who had travelled through Pakistan and India, had been advised to stop for four days at Jhalari.

A pro-Maoist student union called the strike to protest against police atrocities and what they claim are anti-democratic moves by Nepal’s king.

Thursday saw a gradual return to normality in Kathmandu after the first day of the strike on Wednesday shut down many schools, shops and businesses, witnesses said.

Maoist rebels have been fighting for a communist republic in Nepal since 1996 and the uprising has so far claimed more than 9,000 lives.


                                                              Subject: France news