Four people, including a 4-year-old child, were killed in police firing late Tuesday during protests over parliamentary voting on a new constitution in Nepal, according to reports.
Protesters, who are against a recently-proposed constitution that would, among other things, divide the country into provinces, have clashed with police for several weeks. Protesters are also demanding that Nepal be declared a Hindu state in the new constitution.
Authorities beefed up security across the country Wednesday after a set of small explosions at two churches and a police station earlier this week. On Tuesday, police said that they opened fire at protesters after they threw petrol bombs and stones at security forces, attacked police vehicles and vandalized a local police station in the southern district of Rupandehi.
"Four people were killed when police were forced to fire as the crowd became threatening," district police chief Rajendra Dhakal told Agence France-Presse. "Unfortunately, among them was a four-year-old boy."
Over 40 people have been killed in fierce clashes between police and protesters in the past few weeks in Nepal. They include 11 police and the 18-month-old son of a police officer, who was shot dead when protesters opened fire outside his home.
Dozens were arrested Monday as they called for a nationwide strike, forcing shops to close and disrupting traffic.
Work on a new national constitution began in 2008, after a decade-long Maoist insurgency that resulted in the deaths of some 16,000 people and brought down the country's Hindu monarchy, France 24 reported. However, the decision to split the Himalayan nation into seven provinces has triggered fierce opposition from some minority groups who disagree with the makeup, borders and size of the provinces.