Thousands of pro-democracy supporters have defied a shoot-to-kill curfew and held a rally in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. But latest reports say that several people have been killed after security forces opened fire on the demonstrators. The gathering comes on the 15th day of a general strike called by an alliance of seven opposition parties to force King Gyanendra to end his absolute rule.
The last few days have seen at least 10 people killed as the Nepali king tries to keep control. International condemnation has been growing over the crackdown and neighbouring India has sent an envoy to try and bring pressure on the king to take steps towards reconciliation.
Gyanendra imposed direct rule in February 2005, vowing to crush a decade-old Maoist revolt in which more than 13,000 people died. He has offered to hold elections by April next year, but activists want an immediate handover of power. Ahead of talks with India, the monarch freed two top political prisoners but there has been no other sign that the king is considering meeting any further demands of the opposition.