Kathmandu: Motorcycle-borne gunmen on Thursday shot and killed Nepalese Supreme Court judge Rana Bahadur Bam, being investigated for corruption in the centre of the capital, shattering an uneasy peace, amid political uncertainty in the country.
Bam, 64, a sitting judge, was going to the Court premises when his car was sprayed by bullets by unidentified assailants riding a motorbike who blocked his path on the banks of Bagmati river in Sankhamool area of the city, police said.
Kathmandu police spokesman Rabi Raj Shrestha said the judge was shot as he emerged from the Baglamukhi temple after morning prayers at 11 AM.
The judge, his bodyguard and one more person in the car were rushed to nearby Norvic International Hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries.
The condition of the bodyguard and other occupant, who was not named, was stated to be out of danger.
Doctors at the hospital said the 64-year-old judge had been shot six times and was declared dead on being admitted to the hospital.
Police said they were yet to question the bodyguard, who
was an eye-witness to the killing. The shooting incident came as the Nepalese capital was under heightened security following a political crisis in the country, with the opposition and caretaker Maoist government at loggerheads.
Nepal is currently under a power vacuum, being run by a caretaker government sans any legislature.
Justice Bam was being investigated for allegedly being involved in a bribery case involving release of three criminals serving long jail sentences. He was barred from hearing cases.
But in a reprieve for the judge, the country`s constituent assembly which was hearing his impeachment case was disbanded as the political parties failed to meet the deadline to frame the new constitution.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi visited the judge before he died in the hospital. Bhattarai has directed Home Minister Bijaya Gachhadar to investigate the incident.
Later, Bhattarai said, "We will find the killers and will provide extra security to all high level officials and judges."
Security was stepped up in the capital following the assassination and the police has launched a manhunt for the culprits.
No group or party has so far claimed responsibility, but pamphlets were found strewn around the assassination spot of a little known group.