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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, May 23, 2009 5:16 am

Bombing in Nepal church kills 2, wounds 15

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYAAssociated Press Writer

A bomb exploded in a church in the Nepalese capital during Saturday morning Mass, killing two people and wounding 15, police said.

The blast at the Church of the Assumption in Katmandu killed a 14-year-old Indian girl and a 30-year-old woman, said police official Prabhakar Pudasini. The girl was identified as a high school student from the Indian town of Betiah.

It was the first such attack on a Christian church in Nepal, where most of the population is Hindu or Buddhist. Religious violence is rare.

Officials said an underground Hindu extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack. Home Ministry spokesman Navin Ghimire said the little-known group, the National Defense Army, left a note found at the scene.

The bombing came just hours before parliament was to elect a new prime minister and follows weeks of political instability.

A person who was attending the service said a bag - which appeared to be filled with books - was left on the floor.

"Someone moved the bag to make some space and it just exploded," said Sunamaya Budathoki, adding that the Mass was attended by at least 150 people.

Churches in Nepal hold services on Saturdays because it is a public holiday when schools and offices are closed. Sundays are working days.