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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Nepal church blast suspect in police net

Kosh Raj Koirala – Asian Tribune Correspondent in Nepal

Kathmandu, 03 June, ( Nepal police on Tuesday arrested a woman allegedly involved in planting a bomb in Roman Catholic Church at Dhobighat, Lalitpur district, two weeks ago.

A pressure cooker bomb in the Church of Assumption on June 23 had killed three Indian nationals -- Celeste Joseph, 15, on the spot and Deepa Patrick, 20, and Buddha Laxmi Joseph, 35, in the course of treatment -- and left 13 others injured.

The arrested has been identified as Sita Thapa Shrestha, 27, of Gyaneshwar, Kathmandu, the capital city. She was arrested from her rented apartment at Shantinagar, Baneshwar on Tuesday morning, according to police.

Police, however, did not make her public citing ongoing investigations.

The explosion occurred when a congregation of over 300 was about to start a Saturday mass, and just a few minutes after an unidentified woman, now identified as Sita, exited the prayer hall at about 9.15 am, leaving behind a bag.

The Church of the Assumption is the first and the biggest Catholic Church in Nepal. A large number of expatriates visit the church every Sunday.

Addressing a news conference organized in the capital, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Kuber Singh Rana, who is the head of a probe committee into the blast, said they are carrying out further
investigation as per intelligence reports and details received from the arrested.

The Home Ministry had formed a three-member probe committee on June 24 keeping in view of the seriousness of the attack at the religious site.

Binaya Patrick, 21, who is the husband of the slain Deepa, had identified Sita as the same woman who left a bag and exited the prayer hall, minutes before the fateful incident occurred. "She [Sita] has also confessed to the crime to us," said DIG Rana.

Preliminary investigation showed that Sita is associated with various religious and social organizations including Save Hindu State Committee and was strongly demanding scrapping of the decision to make Nepal a secular state. She is found engaged in such activities to press the government to revoke the decision made by the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly last year to declare Nepal a secular

A little-known Hindu fundamentalist group called Nepal Defense Army had owned up the blast. The same group had detonated bombs at a mosque and a church in Biratnagar last year, besides carrying out explosions in various parts of the capital city Kathmandu.

- Asian Tribune -

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