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Maoist bicycle bomber attacks luxury hotel in capital of Nepal

NEPAL: A man on a bicycle threw at least four bombs into the compound of a luxury hotel in Nepal's capital, authorities in the…

NEPAL: A man on a bicycle threw at least four bombs into the compound of a luxury hotel in Nepal's capital, authorities in the Himalayan state said.

The attack in Kathmandu came on the eve of a deadline set for the shutting-down of 10 firms, including the popular Soaltee Crowne Plaza hotel. The guerrillas accused them of unfair labour practices.

"The explosions took place within a gap of a few minutes," an Interior Ministry official said. "The bombs fell near the empty tennis court at the back of the hotel. So no one was injured."

The 283-room hotel is particularly popular with Indian tourists, but it was estimated to be only half-occupied as it is currently low season.

There were no claims of responsibility for the blasts, but the official blamed Nepal's Maoist insurgents, who have been fighting since 1996 to replace the constitutional monarchy with communist rule.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the Maoist revolt. It has scared away investors and tourists and threatened the stability of the multi-party democracy established in 1990.

Yesterday's attack was the first targeting a luxury hotel in the Nepali capital, popular with tourists for its Hindu temples and casinos.

Police and soldiers sealed the area around the hotel after the blasts around 7:15 p.m.

A trade union affiliated to the rebels last week asked 10 companies across the country to shut down indefinitely from Tuesday, saying that they exploited their workers.

Nepalese police say at least 25 people, including a number of foreign tourists, are feared dead after their bus plunged about 100 metres into a river in central Nepal.

The accident took place about 90 kilometres west of Kathmandu early yesterday morning. The bus was travelling between the tourist town of Pokhara and the capital when the driver apparently lost control.