KATHMANDU : Nepal’s last king, Gyanendra Shah, was in a stable condition in a Kathmandu hospital on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, his doctor said.

Gyanendra, 67, was rushed to Kathmandu’s Norvic Hospital late Saturday after he complained of chest pain. ‘There was a 100 percent blockage in his left artery and we performed a procedure last night to open the obstruction,’ the ex-king’s doctor and director of the hospital, Bharat Rawat, told AFP.

Rawat said the former king was recovering well and could be discharged as early as tomorrow. Dozens of well-wishers crowded into the hospital’s grounds upon hearing the news. Gyanendra has kept a low profile since stepping down from the throne in June 2008 when the country’s parliament voted to abolish Nepal’s monarchy, transforming the Himalayan nation into a secular republic.

The former king, traditionally revered as an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, has largely confined himself to his hunting lodge on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Gyanendra came to the throne in 2001 after a palace massacre in which his nephew, the then crown prince, gunned down most of the royal family - including the king and queen - before shooting himself. Gyanendra became deeply unpopular when he seized direct control of the nation in 2005, claiming mainstream parties had failed to tackle the deadly Maoist insurgency. The takeover pushed political parties and rebel Maoists into an alliance that eventually led to the fall of the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy.

UN rushes aid to 70,000 Syrians fleeing into Turkey (11D)

GENEVA (AFP): As many as 70,000 Syrian Kurds have poured into Turkey since Friday fleeing an offensive by Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria, the UN’s refugee agency said Sunday.

The UNHCR ‘is stepping up its response to help Turkey come to the aid of an estimated 70,000 Syrians crossing into Turkey’, most in the past 24 hours, the agency said in a statement. Blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets were being dispatched, with 20 truckloads of aid already supplied, it said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, praised Turkey for taking in the refugees. The country is building two camps with UNHCR help to shelter the Syrian Kurds. ‘This massive influx shows how important it is to offer and preserve asylum space for Syrians as well as the need to mobilise international support to the neighbouring countries so generously hosting them,’ he said. Moreover, Turkish security forces used tear gas and water cannon Sunday to disperse a Kurdish demonstration of support for fellow Kurds who fled a militant offensive across the border in Syria. AFP journalists said the hundreds of young demonstrators fought back by hurling rocks and setting up barricades on the road leading to a nearby border crossing.

‘We’ve come to support our brothers in Syria under attack by Daesh,’ Turkish Kurdish demonstrator Mehmet Eminakma told AFP, referring to the Islamic State group. He also charged that Turkish authorities were blocking young Syrian Kurds who had accompanied their families to safety inside Turkey from returning to the battlefront.