KATHMANDU // A homemade bomb exploded outside a polling station in Nepal’s capital yesterday, injuring an eight-year-old boy and two others.
Despite the threat of violence, millions of Nepalis defied low expectations and voted in elections to choose a special assembly to draw up a long-delayed constitution.
Chief election commissioner Nil Kantha Upreti said voter turnout was more than 70 per cent, the highest in the nation’s history.
But there are signs that the beleaguered Himalayan nation of 27 million could see more of the same dysfunction in coming months, a depressing prospect for citizens already struggling with daily power cuts, fuel shortages and poverty.
Opposition activists who do not recognise Nepal’s interim government vowed to disrupt the polls, and at least 30 people were wounded in small bomb blasts and other violence in the run-up to the election.
Yesterday, a crude bomb went off after voters lined up to cast their ballots at a busy polling station in the heart of Kathmandu, seriously wounding the boy, police official Hemant Pal said.
“This eight-year-old boy was playing with his friends in the neighbourhood when he picked up the bomb, assuming it was something to play with,” Mr Pal said.
The boy’s uncle, Uttam Shahi, said that the child was knocked unconscious and would likely lose several fingers.
Two women suffered minor injuries in the blast.
In Chamundu village, about 400 kilometres west of Katmandhu, opposition activists stormed into a polling station and ripped up ballots, said Homnath Thapaliya, the chief government administrator in the area. He said police fired in the air and about a dozen voters suffered bruises as they tried to flee the scene.
The Election Commission said voting was halted in one village in the north-east and there were brief disruptions in four other places.