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Nepal's Maoists shut down Kathmandu with strike

Maoist supporters and activists set up road blocks during a demonstration in Kathmandu June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Shruti Shrestha

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal’s Maoists brought Kathmandu to a standstill on Monday, forcing vehicles off the road and shops to shut in response to a general strike to protest the death of a local Maoist leader, police said.

Carrying bamboo sticks, activists from the Young Communist League (YCL), the Maoists’ youth wing, burned tyres and torched vehicles of drivers who defied the shutdown. The strike also forced schools and factories to close.

The former rebels demand the government find the killer of YCL leader Rajendra Phuyal, who died last week.

The strike is the latest in a series of protests and strikes the Maoists sponsored since they quit government in May amid a row over the sacking of the country’s army chief. The Maoists ended their decade-long civil war under a 2006 peace deal.

Moderate communist Madhav Kumar Nepal was elected new prime minister but he is yet to name a full cabinet due to wranglings among allies for positions, leaving the country in limbo.