[JURIST] Nepal security forces on Monday fired on a group of pro-democracy protesters [JURIST news archive] in Nijgadh, killing at least one person and wounding five, marking the fifth incident where police have fired upon protesters [JURIST report] since widespread demonstrations against the rule of King Gyanendra [official website; BBC profile] began over a week ago. Gyanendra seized power [JURIST report] in a bloodless coup last year and dismissed the elected government, but last week promised to hold elections [JURIST report] by April 2007. This has done little to quell the protests as Gyanendra has made similar promises before, and over eight thousand people gathered in Kathmandu [JURIST report] over the weekend, calling for Gyanendra to step down immediately. AP has more. eKantipur.com has local coverage.
Shrish Shamshere Rana, head of Nepal's Ministry of Information and Communications [official website], meanwhile, said Monday that the government could respond to the protests by declaring a state of emergency and further suspending civil rights. The government has already banned protests in much of the capital city of Kathmandu and imposed curfews. Rana said that the government does not consider the strikes to be a pro-democracy movement, but rather an effort by Maoist rebels [BBC backgrounder] "to capture government." AFP has more.