KATMANDU, Nepal -- Crown Prince Dipendra, on life support from self-inflicted wounds, was named Nepal's king Saturday after fatally shooting his monarch father and seven other members of the royal family, government and military sources said.
A military official said Dipendra went on the shooting rampage Friday night reportedly after his mother, the queen, objected to his choice of a bride.
Sources said the prince had been declared clinically dead but was being kept breathing by a respirator at a military hospital.
Dipendra was named king by Nepal's State Council to replace his dead father, King Birendra. Dipendra's uncle, Prince Gyanendra, was named acting king by the council, which oversees royal affairs.
"Since the king passed away, the council declared Crown Prince Dipendra as the king of Nepal. But since the crown prince is in the hospital and is mentally and physically unsuitable to carry out his duties, the State Council appoints Prince Gyanendra as assistant to the crown," the council said in a statement.
Although Nepal's monarch has virtually no power, the royal family massacre could further unsettle the political instability already gripping this impoverished Himalayan state. Opposition parties have been demanding Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's resignation for the government's alleged role in a bribery scandal and for not quelling a growing Maoist insurgency.
Details of Dipendra's injuries were not released. The decision on whether to remove him from life support could fall to his uncle, the acting king, or his only other close relative, the slain king's 73-year-old stepmother, Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah, Nepal's Queen Mother.
At least three other people were wounded in the shooting and were reported in stable condition.
Dipendra, 29, shot all immediate members of the royal family late Friday, including King Birendra, 55; Queen Aiswarya, 51; his brother, Prince Nirajan, 22; and his sister, Princess Shruti, 24, who had two daughters.
The State Council confirmed that the others killed were Princess Sharada Shah and Princess Shanti Singh, both sisters of the late king; Kumar Khadga Bikram Shah, Princess Sharada's husband; and Princess Jayanti Shah, a cousin of the late king.
The council said three others were wounded: Gorakh Bikram, Princess Shruti's husband; Komal Shah, the king's cousin; and Prince Dhirendra, the king's youngest brother.
The bodies of the dead were to be taken in a procession from the army hospital late Saturday and cremated according to Hindu rites near a temple on the banks of the Bagmat River. Prince Gyanendra arrived in the capital by car from the jungle area of Chitwan.
The government declared a five-day mourning period and ordered flags at half-staff. No foreign dignitaries or diplomats were invited to the last rites at the Pashupatinath temple.
Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Paudel called the massacre "a national tragedy," and confirmed that the crown prince was to blame.
Paudel told the independent news agency Press Trust of India that the government had ruled out any involvement of Maoist rebels who oppose Nepal's constitutional monarchy.
The slaughter at Narayanhiti Royal Palace is believed to have been the worst mass slaying of royals since the Romanovs were killed in 1918 during Russia's civil war.
A military official said the shooting was caused by a dispute over the marriage of the prince, whose mother reportedly objected to the woman he wanted to wed. The royal family had gathered for dinner Friday night to discuss the wedding.
Sources close to the family said the prince wished to marry the daughter of a former government minister and member of the aristocratic Rana family, which ruled Nepal until 1951.
The shooting reportedly began about 10:40 p.m., and most people didn't learn of the deaths until they awoke Saturday. In Katmandu, the capital, thousands gathered near the royal palace in the heart of the city.
Police in riot gear moved in around the iron walls that surround the modern concrete palace to keep the crowds back. The main street leading to the palace was closed as people gathered on corners to share the news.
"This is unbelievable ... One day you hear that the crown prince is getting married soon and the next day he goes on to a shooting rampage and kills everyone in the family," said Shreeram Shrestha.
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