Strike shuts schools, shops in Nepal

A strike called by Maoist sympathisers on Monday paralysed large swathes of Nepal, forcing schools and businesses to shut and stranding tourists, police said.

The one-day general strike in western Nepal came a week after protests by another group of Maoist supporters brought Kathmandu to a standstill, and appeared to be part of a campaign to bring chaos to the Himalayan nation.

"All the schools, markets and businesses remained shut and vehicles stayed off the road," police official Tulsi Adhikari told AFP from the resort town of Pokhara, 140 kilometres 87 miles west of Kathmandu.

He said tourists had been left stranded at the airport, with no taxis or buses allowed on the road.

The Maoists have held regular protests throughout Nepal since their chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal -- known as Prachanda -- resigned as prime minister last month following a failed bid to fire the head of the army.

The former guerrillas, who fought against the army in a decade-long civil war that ended in 2006, have vowed to disrupt parliament and hold street protests until the army chief is removed from his post.

Adhikari said that Pokhara and eight neighbouring districts were affected by the strike, called by a local ethnic group affiliated to the Maoists.

The protesters were demanding the removal of the army chief, and the establishment of an independent state in the region -- a policy the Maoists support.

A young sea turtle is seen on Runduma island, Wakatobi. AFP/File/Adek Berry