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Terrorism & Security

Olympic torch to scale Everest amid tight security

The Chinese have closely guarded their plan to carry the Olympic flame to the top of the world's highest mountain.

By Peter Smith / May 1, 2008

Oded Balilty

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The Olympic torch tour is scheduled to stop atop Mt. Everest early this month. Following protests that have followed the Beijing Olympic flame in Paris; Canberra, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; and elsewhere, tight security is accompanying the planned trip to the peak.

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The flame could reach the summit as early as this weekend or early next week. Already, one American climber, who has been carrying a pro-Tibet flag, was kicked off the mountain and heavy security is reportedly enforcing the no-climb rule in effect from May 1 to May 10 in Nepal, which, like China, controls access to part of the mountain. Nepal's forces have reportedly been urged to shoot at protesters.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that a human rights group had called on Nepal's government for a revocation of those orders to shoot.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that it had written to Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala asking him "to immediately rescind these orders ... and do not employ unnecessary or excessive use of force against protesters in Nepal."

Mt. Everest, also called Mt. Qomolangma, divides China and Nepal. Nepal has been cautious not to anger China over ongoing protests related to China's crackdown in Tibet that broke out in early March.

Last week, Nepal banned protests and armed Nepalese soldiers were stationed at Mt. Everest's base camp. The soldiers were also stationed at Camp 2, a lower stop for mountaineers preparing to summit the world's highest mountain. The online news site Nepalnews.com said local media reported the orders to shoot.

[The Nepali daily newspaper] Annapurna Post daily quotes a Home Ministry official as saying that security personnel have been deployed to ensure that no one will put obstacle to the torch rally.
Security men with logistics and mountaineering equipment have already been moved to the area.
The soldiers have been given orders to shoot if necessary.
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