KATHMANDU (TIP): At least nine people, including six policemen, were killed and several others injured as thousands of ethnic protesters demanding a separate state in the proposed new Constitution on August 24 attacked police with axes, spears and bricks in a western Nepal district bordering India.

The clash erupted after about 20,000 demonstrators from the Tharu ethnic group breached the prohibitory orders and attacked police with weapons in Tikapur in Kailali district on the issue of dividing the country in seven provinces, a home ministry spokesperson said.

The situation turned violent after the demonstrators surrounded police who were enforcing a curfew in Tikapur and attacked security officials with bricks, spears and knives, killing six policemen, including an SSP, the spokesperson said. SSP Laxman Neupane was hacked to death while a head constable was burned alive by the protestors, officials said, adding that three demonstrators were also killed in the clash.

The injured were taken to regional hospitals and the death toll was expected to rise, they said. Some local media reports put the death toll at 20 that include 17 policemen. However, there was no official confirmation.

Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam said the government has also sent troops to the area to try to bring the situation under control.

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A new national Constitution presented in the constituent assembly , the national parliament, on Sunday aims to restructure Nepal as a federal state made up of seven provinces. Demonstrators have been protesting against the draft charter, saying the proposed provinces fail to ensure political representation for marginalised communities.

The Tharu protesters are demanding a separate state in the new Constitution.Since the last two weeks, Tharuhat United Struggle Committee has been staging agitation in the western Terai region demanding autonomous Tharuhat province, including Kanchanpur and Kailai districts, in the new federal structure.