KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Police fired on ethnic protesters in southern Nepal on Thursday, killing at least three and wounding eight, in fresh violence likely to trigger more trouble in the Himalayan nation facing severe shortages of fuel and other supplies because of the protests.

Government administrator Devi Bahadur Bhandari said the police acted as the ethnic Madhesi protesters tried to attack a political rally organized by the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) in Rangeli, near the border with India. Police tried to stop the attackers with batons, tear gas and blank shots before firing live rounds into the crowd killing two protesters.

Police said another protester was also killed by police in nearby Dainiya. Further details on the circumstances there were not available.

The protesters have been demonstrating and imposing a general strike in much of southern Nepal for months and have blocked a key border crossing through which Nepal gets much of its fuel and other supplies from India. At least 50 people have been killed since August in protest-related violence, but no major violence had been reported in the last month until the deaths Thursday.

The Madhesis say the constitution carved Nepal's seven states unfairly with borders that cut through their ancestral homeland. They want a larger state, more government representation and more local autonomy.

Talks between the protesting groups and the government have continued. Madhesi leaders and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli met Thursday in Kathmandu but reached no agreements.

Upendra Yadav of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, the main group leading the protests, told reporters after the meeting that the two sides were at the same position they were four months earlier and no progress was made.