Two dead, 14 injured in Nepal church blast: police
- Two dead, 14 injured in Nepal church blast: police
By Subel Bhandari
KATHMANDU (AFP) � Two people were killed, including a teenage girl, and 14 wounded when a bomb exploded Saturday in a Roman Catholic church packed with worshippers on the outskirts of the Nepalese capital, police said.
The attack on Kathmandu's only Roman Catholic place of worship marked the "saddest day" in the history of the religion in the impoverished mountain nation, one prominent church leader said.
The building was jammed with around 500 people when the homemade device packed with nails went off at the start of morning Mass, creating panic as people rushed for the exits, police said.
A pamphlet of an obscure Hindu extremist group called the National Defence Army was found at the blast site in Lalitpur, a district adjoining Kathmandu, police said.
But they said it was too soon to assign blame for the attack on the Church of Assumption, which came hours before lawmakers were due to vote in a new premier after weeks of political instability in the world's newest republic.
Police identified the dead as a 15-year-old girl and a woman of 30, and said five of the injured were in a serious condition.
"The explosives were installed inside a pressure cooker. We've recovered metal splinters and nails from the blast site. We're investigating the attack but no arrests have been made," police officer Bharat Gharti Chettri said.
Worshipper Peter Limbu told AFP from his hospital bed he was just metres away from the bomb when it went off.
"There was a black plastic bag on one of the seats. It blew up when one of the church attendants tried to remove it," he said.
"Suddenly there was a loud noise and flames inside the hall," added Limbu, his face and shirt splattered with blood.
"The windows of the church were shattered and there was a panic. All the people began to run outside," he said. "I ran for cover too and I can't hear with my right ear now."
The National Defence Army, which says it is fighting to restore the nation's Hindu monarchy, abolished in 2008, had claimed responsibility previously for killing a missionary in eastern Nepal last July.
The outfit also said it bombed a mosque in the east of the country last year, killing two people.
Hindu and Muslim religious leaders and human rights activists converged on the area where the church is located to show solidarity with the local Christian community, police said.
There is little history of religious conflict in Nepal.
"This is the saddest day in the history of Nepali Christians. Never before has there been such an attack on the Church in Nepal," said Tirtha Thapa, a Christian leader and founder-director of Nepal's Human Development and Community Services.
"We deeply grieve with the families of the dead," he said.
Nepalese churches hold their services on Saturday because Sunday is a normal working day in the impoverished country.
The bombing came as lawmakers were due to choose a new premier three weeks after Maoist prime minister Prachanda quit, plunging the nation into a crisis triggered by a stand-off between his ex-rebels and the army.
Nepal to probe into Church attack which killed 2 Indians
Sunday, May 24, 2009 19:03 IST
Kathmandu: Nepal's premier-elect Madhav Kumar Nepal on Sunday promised a probe into the blast in a church here which killed two Indians, a teenage girl and a women, in a first such incident targeting a Christian shrine.
A day after he was elected Nepal's prime minister, Nepal visited the Catholic Assumption Church located at Dhovighat, the biggest Christian shrine of Nepal established in 1995, where a powerful blast took place on Saturday.
Besides two people killed, 15 others were also injured which included four Indians.
He also visited hospitals where the injured are undergoing treatment, said a CPN-UML leader Krishna Shrestha.
Nepal also condemned the attack at the religious place and expressed sadness over the human casualties. He also expressed best wishers for the early recovery of those injured in the blast. Church security has been tightened.
The explosion occurred on Saturday when a Mongolian faced girl carrying a bag came and left it on the floor pretending to go to the toilet, according to the church officials.
The explosion took place shortly after that at a time when some 300 people were busy attending Saturday prayer. However, the well furnished modern church did not have any major damage due to the blast besides breaking glasses.
Today, some 500 people gathered at the church to pay homage to the deceased persons and to wish for early recovery of those injured in the incident.
Bishop Anthony Sharma, Father Robin Roy and Father Bogati were among those who attended the prayer today.
The deceased were identified as Alisiya Joseph (15) and Dipa Paitri (31), both hailing from Patna in Bihar, they said. Fifteen other people, including at least four Indian nationals, were also injured in the blast, police said.
The incident occurred yesterday when the worshipers were performing morning prayers in the church situated in Lalitpur district of Kathmandu.
The injured Indians were identified as Sweety Singh, Binayak Kunwar, Buddhalaxmi Joseph and Father Rakesh -- all from Patna. They have been admitted to the nearby Patan Hospital and Alka Hospital.
Police suspect the involvement of the Nepal Defence Army, a lesser known Hindu fundamentalist armed group, in the blast as a leaflet belonging to the outfit was recovered from the site.
`Nepal was declared a secular state two and a half years ago after the success of the popular uprising that restored democratic rights ending absolute monarchy and converted the Hindu kingdom into a federal republic.
Satutday's attack was the first such strike targeting a church in Nepal.
- Those who succumbed to death are Celestina Joseph & Dipa Patrick
Celestina Joseph's father Balan Joseph is from Idukki Dist, Kerala got married in Kathmandu & settled. His wife is seriously injured & is still in critical stage. The other lady Dipa Patrick, who is from Patna, got married a 3-4 months ago, came to Nepal to meet their relatives and had visited church with their friends.
Celestina Joseph's body cremated on Tuesday (Nepali RC christians cremate body instead of burying) & many people from different walks paid condolence to the bereaved family. Please pray for all victims & their family.
God bless us
Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu