Nepal launches manhunt for attackers of newly named minister

KATHMANDU Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:56pm IST

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepalese police were hunting on Tuesday for the attackers of a minister who was stabbed in the capital hours after he was named to his post, a sign of worsening security in the nascent Himalayan republic racked by political turmoil.

Energy Minister Gokarna Bista was attacked outside his home on the outskirts of Kathmandu on Monday night by unknown assailants, suffering head and hand injuries, police said. They detained 187 people for questioning, but made no arrests.

Police did not immediately suggest a motive for the attack. It came as Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal negotiated with former Maoist rebels over expanding his cabinet and running a coalition government that will continue a peace process begun in 2006.

As key conditions of the peace deal, the government has to oversee the drafting of a new constitution and decide on how to integrate or rehabilitate more than 19,000 former Maoist guerrillas who are now living in camps.

Khanal, a moderate communist, added 12 members of his party to the cabinet on Monday night. The Maoists said they would name their nominees soon, but analysts say there is a conflict between the two parties over control of the powerful home ministry.

The Maoists gave up arms and emerged as the biggest bloc in elections held in 2008. They formed a short-lived government that abolished the 239-year old monarchy, but had to resign over differences with other parties over the control of the army.

(Editing by C.J. Kuncheria)

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