Ethnic groups have staged a general strike in southern Nepal
after police shot and killed three protesters trying to disrupt a political rally.
The industrial action, which shut down markets, schools and transport in much of southern Nepal on Tuesday, came following a violent protest rally in Rajbiraj town, 400 kilometers southwest of the capital, Kathmandu.
On Monday, police forces tried to disperse a group of protesters outside the venue of a campaign rally by the Communist Party of Nepal. Ethnic Madhesi groups oppose the party and have vowed to stop its events.
Three protesters were fatally shot and dozens more wounded by police during the violence.
Officers initially attempted to drive away the protesters with bamboo sticks and firing tear gas canisters before resorting to the use of fire arms, according to Home Ministry official Bal Krishna Panthi.
Panthi further said 33 members of the police force were injured during the clashes. He did not, however, give the exact number of the protesters hurt in the confrontation.
Nepalese police clash with Madhesi minority protesters at Rajbiraj, Saptari District on March 6, 2017. (photo by AFP)
The Communist Party of Nepal was in power in the country and its leader Khadga Prasad Oli was the prime minister as the Madhesis held a series of protest rallies in the south between August 2015 and February 2016.
The ethnic group demanded a new constitution that would give the ethnic group more territory in proposed federal states, a call rejected by Oli back then.
Meanwhile, Nepalese police forces enhanced security measures on Tuesday in southern towns and ordered additional patrols on highways, which were mostly deserted due to the general strike.
Southern Nepali towns have been the scene of fresh protest rallies since Saturday ahead of district and municipal elections set for May.