Nepal authorizes use of deadly force to stop Olympic torch protests

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Soldiers and police in Nepal have been cleared to open fire to stop any protests during China's Olympic torch run to the summit of Mount Everest.

Nepal's Home Ministry says the use of deadly force is only authorized as a last resort.

The troops will first try to persuade protesters to leave during the torch run and will arrest those who stay. If demonstrators defy all nonviolent means of restraint, troops have the option of using weapons.

Twenty-five soldiers and policemen have established camps on the mountain. Climbers will be banned from the mountain's higher elevations during the torch run.

The worldwide torch relay has been the target of demonstrators protesting China's human rights record, including its recent crackdown in Tibet. The climb up Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, is planned for the first few days of May.