Bomb explosion kills two in Nepal church

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Police reports state that a bomb blast in a church in Nepal on Saturday has killed two people and injured at least a dozen more. The attack comes just hours before the national parliament was due to elect a new prime minister.

The bomb detonated in the Church of the Assumption in the town of Lalitpur, located south of Nepal's capital of Kathmandu. The explosion occurred during the church's weekly function. Around 150 people were in the church at the time of the explosion.

"The wounded people have been rushed to a local hospital and we are investigating," police superintendent Kedarman Singh Bhandari said.

"A 15-year old student, Celestina Joseph, and 30-year-old Pabitra Paitri died in the bomb blast. Five of the injured are in serious condition," Ram Brish Chaudhary said to the Agence France Presse news agency. "Security has been increased and an investigation is going on."

According to the Nepalese home ministry spokesman, Navin Ghimire, the National Defence Army, an obscure Hindu extremist group, left a message at the scene of the disaster, assuming responsibility for the explosion. The group says it wants to return Nepal's Hindu monarchy back to power after it was abolished last year. It has taken responsibility for the killing of a missionary in July of last year.

This is the first bomb attack on a Christian church in Nepal. The country's population is predominantly either Buddhist or Hindu.