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The BBC's Daniel Lak in Kathmandu
"This infamous massacre will have a deep and lasting effect on every aspect of life in Nepal for years to come"
 real 56k

Editor of the Nepali Times, Kunda Dixit
"The country just woke in total shock"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jill McGivering
examines King Birendra's reign
 real 28k

Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Nepal royal family massacred
Royal palace, Kathmandu
Police control crowds outside the royal palace
The king and queen of Nepal have been killed in a massacre of royal family members by the heir to the throne.

We have been orphaned by this loss

Kathmandu resident
Eleven people - including several members of the royal family - were shot dead late on Friday evening, apparently after a dinner table dispute about a bride for the heir to the throne.

King Birendra's 29-year-old son, Crown Prince Dipendra, opened fire on his parents and other family members before turning his sub-machine gun on himself. Some reports say he is on life support in hospital.

Crown Prince Dipendra
Crown Prince Dipendra: Unhappy about choice of bride

He had apparently disagreed with his mother, Queen Aiswarya, over his choice of wife.

Hundreds of people are milling around the Kathmandu palace in shock, waiting for news.

Crown Prince Dipendra, educated at exclusive Eton College in the United Kingdom, is reported to have been at odds with his family for some time over his choice of bride.

According to recent press reports, astrologers had advised that the crown prince should not be allowed to marry or have children until he reached the age of 35.

The astrologers warned that the king would die if this advice was ignored.


Nepal's privy council are meeting to choose a successor as a shocked nation attempts to come to terms with the news.

Army hospital, Kathmandu
Security was tight outside the army hospital, where the dead and injured were taken
The king's younger brother and probable successor, Prince Gyanendra, was away from the capital.

Poor weather has delayed his return from Chitwan, 120km (75 miles) from Kathmandu.

The king and queen's other two children - Prince Nirajan and Princess Shruti - are among the dead.

The murders are thought to be the worst mass killing of royalty since the Romanovs were put to death by order of Lenin in 1918 during the Russian civil war.

"This is a most unfortunate and shocking event," said Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Paudel.

"Shocking is an understatement, we have been orphaned by this loss," said a vegetable seller, Janardan Sharma, who like many in Kathmandu rushed to the royal palace early on Saturday to try to find out more news of the tragedy.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office issued a statement saying that he was "profoundly shocked".


King Birendra, 55, ruled Nepal as an absolute monarch after ascending the throne in 1972, without political parties under a system of local panchayats or councils.

But nationwide unrest forced him to legalise political parties in 1990 and accept a parliamentary system.

However, the king has remained extremely popular in Nepal.

Last December hundreds of people lined the streets of Kathmandu to greet the king on his 55th birthday.

Some people in Nepal, which is 90% Hindu, believe that the king is the reincarnation of the god Vishnu.

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See also:

24 May 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Nepal
24 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nepal
02 Jun 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Nepal in shock
23 Feb 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Nepal's Maoist rebellion
02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal's monarch of change
05 Apr 01 | South Asia
Mao in the mountains
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