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Eight hurt in Nepal blast

By Suman Pradhan for CNN

The latest explosion in Kathmandu is blamed on Maoist rebels
The latest explosion in Kathmandu is blamed on Maoist rebels

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KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- An explosion ripped through a busy marketplace during the evening commuter rush hour in the Nepalese capital Wednesday, wounding at least eight bystanders, police said.

"We suspect Maoists [are] behind the blast," police Inspector Rajendra Sunuwar said.

The explosion occurred near a bus stop at Kathmandu's Teku marketplace when the area was busy with commuters. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

"We believe the explosive was hidden inside a bag which was placed near a hardware shop," a police officer said. The area was cordoned off as police and soldiers searched for clues.

Drawing their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, the Maoist rebels have been fighting a drawn-out campaign to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy and replace it with a communist republic.

In six years of battles, more than 2,500 people have been killed.

The site of the explosion is close to the area where a similar explosion on October 12 killed one person and injured several others. That explosion also was suspected to be the work of Maoists, although the rebels never claimed responsibility.

Wednesday's incident followed a major clash between government troops and Maoist rebels in western Nepal.

Defense Ministry spokesman Bhakti Prasad Uprety said 15 rebels were killed in a major sweep in the western district of Bardia on Tuesday.

Clashes between security forces and rebels have continued in the midst of a political crisis triggered early this month by King Gyanendra when he sacked an elected government and assumed all executive powers.

Gyanendra installed another government headed by Lokendra Bahadur Chand, a politician with close ties to the Royal Palace.

Nepal's mainstream political parties denounced the move as "unconstitutional and undemocratic," and vowed to launch protest campaigns to force the king to rescind his decision to assume executive power.

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