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Arson attack on church in Nepal

Nepal Cathedral and priests' residence burnt - RV

Nepal Cathedral and priests' residence burnt - RV

18/04/2017 14:03

Fire partially damaged priest’s residence and part of Assumption Cathedral in Kathmandu, Nepal Arson attack on April 18.   Arsonists attempted to set on fire Assumption Cathedral, the first public Catholic ‎worship place in Hindu-majority Nepal.‎

Father Ignatius Rai, pastor of the cathedral parish said the incident occurred around 3 a.m. on April 18 ‎when "unknown persons" broke into the church premises.‎ ‎"This is shocking. The local Christian community is now living under threat," said, Father Rai.‎

They started a fire that partially damaged the priest’s residence and the western part of the church. A ‎car and two motorbikes were also completely burnt.  No casualties were reported.‎ The incident took place two days after Easter. Police are currently investigating the case.‎

This is the second time the church has been targeted. A bomb exploded there in 2009, claiming three lives ‎including a school girl and injuring 15 more.‎ In 2010, Ram Prasad Mainali, chief of the Nepal Defense Army, a little known Hindu extremist group, ‎was arrested in connection with the incident.‎

‎"We are panicking. Nobody left anything in the church premise this time so we don’t know whether it ‎was a personal attack or by some disgruntled organization," said Father Silas Bogati, former parish ‎priest of the Assumption Cathedral parish.‎

Condemning the attack, the parish released a statement seeking fair investigation into the attack.‎ "The Catholic Church has been involved in social work for half a decade now and will continue with ‎our work despite the frequent attacks," the release written in Nepali said, adding that no-one should ‎allow the attack to disrupt religious harmony in the country.‎

Nepal will hold the first local elections in two decades on May 14. The upcoming elections have been ‎seen as a significant step toward the implementation of a new constitution passed by the Nepal ‎government in 2015.‎

The constitution for the first time mandates a restructured, federal and secular republic.‎ However, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the fourth-largest force in parliament has decided to campaign ‎for the reinstatement of a Hindu state in the upcoming polls. ‎

‎"We are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming local elections in the country and we are in the ‎process with the government. This incident, if politically motivated will not harm the peaceful ‎environment in the country," said Father Bogati.‎

Assumption Cathedral, which can seat 1,000 people, incorporates Buddhist and Hindu elements in a ‎pagoda-gothic style. Nepal's first public Catholic church was built after a new constitution promulgated ‎in 1991 gave Nepal's people the freedom to practice any religion in public provided there is no attempt ‎to convert others. Prior to that, Catholic services were held in the Hindu kingdom only in chapels of ‎Catholic schools, convents and social centers.‎

Catholics make up a tiny portion of Nepal's Christian population, with the majority being Protestants. ‎The Nepal Catholic Directory counts about 8,000 Catholics in Nepal, mostly in the eastern region where ‎parishes were set up in 1999. Nepal has a population of some 28 million people, 80 percent of whom are ‎Hindus.‎ (UCAN)



18/04/2017 14:03