05/23/2009, 00.00
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Attack on Kathmandu Cathedral: “a woman planted the bomb”

by Kalpit Parajuli
A Nepalese priest describes the “shock” of the Christian community. Two Christian faithful died in the attack. Over recent months the Christian community had received death threats from Hindu fundamentalists. Madhav Kumar Nepal, of the Marxist-Leninist party is elected prime minister of the Constitutional Assembly.

Dhobigahat (AsiaNews) – “This incident has greatly shocked whole catholic community”, is the immediate reaction of Fr. Shilas Bogati, who was leading morning prayer when a bomb exploded in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu. An eyewitness has confirmed that the devise was planted by a middle aged women, dressed in black.  When the “strange women” left the Church the bomb exploded.

Fr. Bogati was leading the congregation in the absence of the parish priest Fr. George who is aboard in India.  Anthony Sharma, Apostolic Vicar for Nepal, is also abroad. “About seven months back – continues the priest -  we had a telephone threat saying to stop all Christian activities and institutions, otherwise we will have serious consequences”. He recounts that at the time they did not take the threats seriously even though they had been warned by police.  The group behind the episode is the Nepal Defence Army, a movement linked to Hindu fundamentalism.

Meanwhile information is emerging regarding the victims of the blast.  Celeste Joseph, a 15 year old student and 30 year old  Deepa Patrik, both Catholic; the first died from the impact of the explosion, the second died later in hospital from serious injury.  At the time of the attack – 8.45 local time – only moments before the beginning of morning service – there were between 350 and 450 people.

The Nepal Defence Army, planted the bomb in a pressure coke laden with explosive and controller by a timer.  The bomb was placed right in the heart of the cathedral to obtain maximum damage.  Currently there are dozens of injured being treated for their wounds, three of whom are in serious conditions.  Among these brother Rakesh, who directs a Catholic Institute.

Brother Lalit descrive the attack: “As we finished the first prayer song of Gloria, suddenly I heard a huge sound and immediately saw burning flame. The injured started crying and everyone was rushing out of the church”. Another eyewitness, still shaken by fear, reveals that “a strange women of middle age with black dress was sitting there left a lady’s bag saying she was going to toilet. As soon as she went out of the hall the blast took place”. After the bomb blast, a bundle of leaflets where found written by the Nepal Defence Army and issued by its leader R.K Mainali.  The leaflets call for Nepal to be proclaimed a Hindu State and warns all foreigners and NGOs leave Nepal. The papers also contained images of Hindu Lord Krishna and many Hindu religious slogans.

The attack has been severely condemned by religious authorities on the country, among them the leader of the nations Hindu community.  Nazrul Hussein, the president of Nepal Islamic Federation and Secretary of inter-religious council, who immediately arrived at the scene said “We all are shocked. Such attacks on holy places are attacks on all Nepalese society. And as such must be condemned”. Hindu leader Damodar Pokharel condemning the incident said, “Such attack is not the aim of any religion. So, attacks on religious places must be stopped.” He added, “We are very much shocked by this incident.” Chirendra Satayal, a Catholic clarified that “fear will not win our religious activities will go ahead”.

Questioned by AsiaNews, chief of police Arjun Jang Shahi confirms “We have positive relations with the catholic community. We have collected all the spot observation evidence and after investigation we will soon bring the culprits to justice”.

Meanwhile the Constitutional Assembly this morning approved the new Prime Minister of Nepal: è Madhav Kumar Nepal, a high profile figure from the Communist Party of Nepal- United Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML).He was the only candidate for the post of premier. Now he will have to form a cabinet, that will be composed of members from the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Madhesi Rights Forum and other smaller parties.

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