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Nepal: Everest pro-Tibet protesters may be shot

April 21, 2008

KATHMANDU, Nepal April 20, 2008 (CNN) -- Nepal has given its security
personnel permission to shoot pro-Tibet demonstrators during China's
Olympic flame climb to Mount Everest's summit early next month.

"About 25 soldiers and policemen have established camps on the mountain
and they have been ordered to use force if necessary to stop any
anti-Chinese activities," Mod Raj Dotel, spokesman for the home
ministry, said Sunday. "This could mean shooting if necessary."

Security personnel will also check mountain climbers for non-essential
expedition materials, Dotel added.

"If anyone is found with anti-Chinese material their permit will be
canceled and returned from the mountain," he said.

Chinese climbers plan to take the Olympic flame to the top of the
world's highest peak, at 8,848 meters (29,028 feet) as part of the
global relay leading up to the August 8 opening of the Summer Olympics
in Beijing.

Spring is the most popular season for climbing Mount Everest, which
straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region of China.

The Nepali government has granted permits to dozens of climbers from 30
expeditions this season.

But between May 1 and May 10, climbers are barred from going above 6,400
meters until the torch run is completed. China plans to take the Olympic
flame to the summit sometime then.

Harsh weather conditions allow only about two opportunities in May for a
push to the summit.

The Chinese have not allowed any expedition to climb the mountain from
the north side, according the Kathmandu representative of the Tibet
China Mountaineering Association.

Almost every day in the past month, Nepalese police have arrested
pro-Tibet protesters from in front of the Chinese Embassy and the United
Nations offices. The demonstrators are released later in the evening.
VideoWatch protests in Kathmandu »

Supporters of Tibet denounce the government's stance toward the
autonomous region, and many believe China should not have been awarded
the honor of hosting the Olympic Games.

Earlier torch relay stops in London, England; Paris, France; and San
Francisco, California attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators. They
led to attacks on the torch and relay participants, and prompted police
to make dozens of arrests.

Subsequent stops in Argentina, Tanzania and Oman were trouble-free.

In Pakistan, authorities closed the relay to the public. And India
shortened the relay and kept thousands of anti-Chinese protesters at bay
by sealing off roads and shuttering buildings along the route.

The relay went smoothly in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday, amid heavy
security and scattered protests along the route.

The flame arrived in Malaysia on Sunday. About 1,000 police officers
will be on hand to watch for protesters during a relay in the capital
city Kuala Lampur Monday.
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