Nepal: Catholic church bombed

Two people were killed, and 14 injured when a bomb exploded in a Catholic church in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu on Saturday night.

The two who died were a 15-year-old girl and a woman of 30. Five more victims are in a serious condition in hospital.

The attack on the Church of the Assumption, city's only Roman Catholic place of worship marked the "saddest day" in the history of the religion in the impoverished mountain nation, one church leader said.

The building was crowded with more than 500 people when the homemade device packed with nails exploded at the beginning of Mass. Police said the windows aere blown out and there was panic as people rushed to escape the building.

Police say they suspect a Hindu extremist group. The explosion came hours before lawmakers were due to vote in a new leader after weeks of political instability in the world's newest republic.

The National Defence Army, which says it is fighting to restore the nation's Hindu monarchy, abolished in 2008, claimed responsibility for killing a missionary in eastern Nepal last July.

Hindu and Muslim religious leaders and human rights activists have arrived in 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. We deeply grieve with the families of the dead," said Tirtha Thapa, a Christian leader and founder-director of Nepal's Human Development and Community Services.

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