By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent with additional reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
KATHMANDU, NEPAL (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Nepal remained on high alert Sunday, December 11, amid reports that militants claimed responsibility for an attack on a Christian aid group, while security forces defused a “powerful” bomb near the entrance of a Protestant church in the capital Kathmandu.
The bomb, which was in a cloth bag and stuffed in a white plastic sack, was discovered Sunday, November 27, outside the Navajiwan Church, which belongs to the Assemblies of God grouping of churches in the capital's Kupondole district, Christians revealed.
Suman Gurung, the church pastor, explained however that security for services and Church activities in the future would be stepped up.
“We will continue to be vigilant and pray. We didn’t used to examine bags of those coming to worship but from now on we will do that,” he added in a statement.
Security has become a key concern for Christians in the capital Kathmandu, following a November 22 bomb attack on the United Mission to Nepal (UMN), a major Christian non-governmental organization building hospitals, schools, hydropower plants and industrial development and training institutions in Nepal.
Police said they found leaflets at UMN's targeted office in Kathmandu, signed by someone calling himself "a senior member of the Nepal Defense Army" (NDA), a militant armed group that has attacked Christians and Muslims, demanding that they leave Nepal.
NDA representatives reportedly said the majority population in Nepal was Hindu and therefore it should be a Hindu state. The leaflets also accused the UMN of converting Hindus to Christianity.
The blast came some two years after the NDA claimed responsibility for a blast at one of Nepal's biggest Catholic churches, killing three people.
Christian observers linked the attacks to an ongoing discussion on religious freedom in Nepal's new constitution, including the right to convert.
Last week, Nepalese law makers extended for another six month a deadline for writing the constitution as political parties failed to complete the task.
Political infighting has prevented the government from starting any major development projects in the Himalayan nation, where averages per cap income of $490 makes it the 17th poorest, the World Bank said.
About half the nation's children are said to be malnourished, its roads are crumbling, fuel shortages are frequent and clean drinking water is scarce.
While Nepal has one of the largest sources of untapped hydropower in the world, the country often faces blackouts of up to 14 hours a day, as authorities are apparently unable to build any new plants to use it.