Nepal names prime suspect in deadly bomb attack


Police launched a nationwide hunt on Wednesday for the alleged mastermind of a deadly bomb attack in Kathmandu, as details emerged of the shadowy group he is said to lead.

A powerful blast in front of the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation and near government offices on Monday killed three people and wounded another seven in the first bomb attack in the capital for three years.

An organisation calling itself the United Ethnic Liberation Front (UELF) claimed responsibility, the government said, although their motive remains unclear.

Nepal police named Dev Raj Lama, the 35-year-old alleged leader of the group whose nom de guerre Bishwakranti comes from the Nepali for "world revolution", as the prime suspect in the bombing.

"The Front is under surveillance and we have launched a hunt for the suspect," said investigation leader deputy inspector general Upendra Kant Aryal, vowing that suspects would be arrested within a few days.

A number of people have been detained, Aryal said, but they have since been released.

Kathmandu Metropolitan Police published Lama's photograph and details on its "Most Wanted" website, and appealed to members of the public to turn him in.

Lama, who was arrested last year on charges of extortion, claimed immediately after the blast that his organisation had detonated the bomb to protest against recent rises in fuel prices, local media said.

The UELF has run extortion rackets in Kathmandu and has threatened government officials working in rural areas, the Nagarik daily newspaper reported, citing police officials.

UELF was also behind a bomb blast in Dadhing district in central Nepal on Saturday, the paper said. There were no reported injuries.

Nepal's peace ministry held talks with UELF commanders in August as part of a dialogue with more than 30 armed and underground groups responsible for violence in Nepal, Bharat Paudel, a peace ministry spokesman, told AFP.

"Five members arrived in the ministry office to hold talks with the then-minister. But they didn't have any outcome," Paudel said.

Posted on: 2012-03-01 04:50