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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
'Eyewitness' account blames Dipendra
Street protest
The uncertainty is fuelling popular anger
The Washington Post and the Times of London have published what they say is the first detailed account from inside the royal palace of the bloody events of last Friday.

The account is provided by a relative of an eyewitness, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Nepalese reading papers
Many Nepalis do not know what to believe
But it cannot be independently verified because no one else who was there has come forward to say what happened.

The account confirms initial reports that the then Crown Prince Dipendra was responsible for killing his father, King Birendra, and eight other royals.

But it fails to corroborate the theory that the massacre was sparked by a dispute over his wedding plans.

Left room

The relative of the eyewitness says there was nothing to hint at the tragedy about to unfold as Dipendra served drinks for family members gathering for dinner.

Crown Prince Dipendra
Crown Prince Dipendra: Showed no emotion
He apparently slipped out of the room and returned wearing military fatigues, a cap pulled low over his face and armed with an assault rifle and a sub-machine gun.

He shot King Birendra first, then sprayed adjoining rooms with bullets while his relatives remained rooted to the spot, too stunned to react.

He went out into the garden and at that point, was followed by his mother, Queen Aishwarya, and younger brother, Prince Nirajan, both of whom were shot.

When he went back inside, his uncle, Dhirendra, apparently pleaded with him to put the gun down, but he was also shot as were two female relatives who went to help Dhirendra as he lay on the ground injured.

'Fired indiscriminately'

Dipendra "said nothing at all throughout the whole episode, and there was no expression whatever on his face," the relative said.

"He just fired indiscriminately."

Apparently, the shooting stopped when he returned to the garden and more shots were heard. The eyewitness assumed that Dipendra must have shot himself.

The whole episode is said to have taken no more than 15 minutes.

The day after the shooting, some reports suggested Dipendra may have been drunk and had a row with his parents over his choice of bride.

But there is nothing in the latest account to suggest that was the case.

Many ordinary Nepalese are unwilling to believe that the late Crown Prince could have carried out such an act.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories have been rife - fuelled by the lack of hard information from the authorities.

Some have suspected a plot by King Gyanendra, involving his son, Paras Shah, who is widely disliked.

According to this theory, it was all part of a plot to get Gyanendra on to the throne so that his son could then become Crown Prince.

This explains - so the theory goes - why Paras, who was at the family gathering, somehow emerged uninjured.

Other conspiracy theories seek to point the finger of blame at the government or at Nepal's powerful southern neighbour, India, whose influence many Nepalese resent.

Nepal's Maoist rebels, who have been waging a violent campaign against the monarchy, seem convinced the killings were the result of a conspiracy by "both national and international reactionaries."

King Gyanendra has promised that an inquiry into the massacre will report within three days.

But many Nepalese are wondering whether they will ever know the real reason for the deaths of most of their royal family.

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02 Jun 01 | South Asia
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