A Nepalese soldier ended an argument with a group of villagers by spraying them with bullets, killing at least 11 people and sparking protests, officials and witnesses said on Thursday.
The Himalayan country's military has been repeatedly accused of violating human rights in its fight against Maoist rebels, and the killings on Wednesday drew some 200 protesters to the hospital where the 19 wounded were taken.
Hours later, around 15,000 protesters, led by an alliance of seven political parties, marched through Kathmandu demanding the country's king restore democracy and condemning the killings.
Since King Gyanendra seized absolute power earlier this year, saying he needed total control to defeat Maoist rebels, the army has faced increased criticism from human rights groups for using excessive force and killing civilians.
Several officials and soldiers have been punished by the army for committing abuses and murder.
But many say officials haven't done enough and the political parties have called for a general strike in Kathmandu on Friday to protest the killings.
The Royal Nepalese Army confirmed the shooting and identified the soldier as Basudev Thapa, who it said was killed in the incident but didn't elaborate.
The government also announced a separate independent investigation into the shooting, headed by former Supreme Court Judge Top Bahadur Singh.
Villagers said the soldier may have been drunk and had got into an argument with some villagers near Nagarkot, about 24 kilometres (15 miles) northeast Kathmandu.
Initial reports from the military said soldiers could have opened fire after mistaking the villagers for communist rebels.
The rebels, who say they're inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal's monarchy and establish a communist state.
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