Police kill 4 at protests for statehood in southern Nepal

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KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Police opened fire on protesters demanding statehood in southern Nepal on Wednesday, killing at least four people in two towns, an official said.

The violence was the latest in recent weeks as different ethnic groups have protested to demand statehood in the country's new constitution. Since the protests began last month, 30 people including police officers have been killed in the violence.

Police official Saurav Rana said three protesters were killed Wednesday because they were attacking police officers in Jaleswor town, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the capital, Kathmandu. Police also shot tear gas at the protesters and a few of them were also injured.

Separately, one protester was killed when police opened fire in Bhardaha town, just east of Jaleswor. Protesters were blocking a key road with fallen trees and police were trying to clear the path for vehicles to pass through.

Wednesday's protesters are from the Madhesi ethnic group in southern Nepal, who say they should get a bigger area than proposed in the draft being finalized in the Constituent Assembly.

Nepal has been governed by an interim constitution for years now. A Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 failed to draft a new charter in four years, and a second assembly was elected in 2013. Disagreements among political parties have been blamed for the delay.

Since an earthquake in April that killed thousands of people, there has been pressure on politicians to speed up the drafting process.

The main political parties now agree that there should be seven federal states, but smaller political parties and ethnic groups oppose either the number or makeup of the states.

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