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37 killed after Nepal bus hits land mine
Updated: 2005-06-06 14:09

At least 37 people were killed and dozens more wounded Monday when a crowded bus detonated a land mine planted by suspected rebels in Nepal's south, an army official said.

The bus was traveling on a rural highway near the village of Badarmude when it was ripped apart by the explosion, an army official said on condition of anonymity. Army officials are not allowed to reveal their names in Nepal for security reasons.

Thirty-seven people died and 72 others were wounded, the official said.

A nearby hospital was overwhelmed with patients and didn't have enough doctors to perform surgeries, local reporters said. The injured passengers said they had no indication there would be a mine on the rural road.

"There was a small bang and then our bus was thrown in the air. The bus was ripped into pieces and many people were killed," said Khum Bahadur Gurung, 62, who spoke from his hospital bed. Gurung's legs were injured in the explosion.

Another eyewitness, Surya Gurung, 20, said the bus was crowded with nearly 100 people.

Police suspect the land mine was planted by rebels.

The guerrillas have stepped up violence since Feb. 1, when King Gyanendra took control of the government and imposed a state of emergency that was lifted in April.

Government troops moved in after the blast, searching for rebels and taking control of the area 110 miles southwest of the capital Katmandu, according to army headquarters.

King Gyanendra has said his February power grab was necessary to quell the insurgency, which has left more than 11,500 people dead since 1996.

They have repeatedly refused government calls for peace talks.

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