KATMANDU, Nepal – Nepal's (search) government said Wednesday that it has arrested 43 people to ensure law and order in the Himalayan nation since the king suspended civil liberties and imposed emergency rule last week.
The detainees, including top political leaders and student activists, were arrested for their "own personal safety" as well as to stem potential disturbances, a Home Ministry statement said. Twenty-five of them are being detained in government centers, while 18 others are under house arrest.
Last week, King Gyanendra (search) dismissed an interim government, imposed emergency rule, and ordered a communications blackout in the Himalayan nation in a power grab decried by foreign leaders as a step backward for democracy.
A panel of nine top U.N. human rights experts — who report to the world body's top watchdog, the U.N. Human Rights Commission — said this week that they are "deeply concerned" by Gyanendra's ouster of the government and the ensuing clampdown.
"The wave of arrests and detentions and the actions against the media are a serious setback for the country," they said in a joint statement.
Some Nepalis say they are hopeful that Gyanendra will bring stability and revive the South Asian nation's vital tourist trade, which has been flagging because of an escalating Maoist insurgency.
The government also announced Wednesday that five communist rebels had been killed in various military operations throughout the country.
In claiming control of the country last week, Gyanendra charged that the previous government had failed to control the insurgency or prepare for parliamentary elections.
Nepal's rebels, who say they are inspired by the late Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been trying since 1996 to overthrow the government and establish a socialist state in a conflict that has claimed 10,500 lives.