05/23/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Kathmandu, attack on Cathedral of the Assumption: two dead, dozens wounded

by Kalpit Parajuli
The most famous Catholic building in Nepal is attacked. Hindu fundamentalists claim responsibility, the same group behind the assassination of a Catholic priest in 2007. This afternoon a parliamentary meeting to elect a new premier was scheduled to take place.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The death toll from an attack on Kathmadu’s Cathedral of the Assumption is two dead and dozens injured.  The attack took place at 9 am local time during Morning Prayer, in the suburb of Dhobighat in Lalitpur, a satellite village in the outskirts of the capital.

One of the certified victims is a young Catholic woman named Salestina. The injured, many of them in grave conditions, have been taken to the capital’s hospital; the police has surrounded the area where the attack took place.

According to the earliest reports from security personnel, the attack was organised by a Hindu fundamentalist group; officers recovered leaflets from the site signed by the Nepal Defence Army, demanding that Nepal be declared “a Hindu state”.  A similar leaflet signed by the same group was found at the site of the assassination of a young Catholic priest – president of the Don Bosco Institute – last year in Syrsia, east Nepal.

The Nepal Defence Army is not a famous group but it claims involvement in some terrorist activities including murder, bombings and intimidations. It is the first time that a Catholic building has been targeted in Nepal.  Government and Police authorities have both so far refused to comment on the incident preferring to maintain a strict silence on the episode.

Late 2007, after centuries of being ruled by a monarchy, the Nepalese parliament approved a constitutional amendment to transform the nation into a Republic.  In May 2008 the Constitutional Assembly was unanimously voted.  The end of the Monarchy also brought about the end of Hinduism’s role as the state religion, opening the door to religious freedom.  In recent weeks the country has been experiencing a serious political crisis, worsened by the resignation of former Prime Minister Prachanda at the beginning of the month.  This afternoon parliament was to meet to elect a new premier.

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