South Asia

Violent wave of church attacks in Nepal last month

Christian leaders in Nepal. Photo Credit: Federation of National Christians Nepal (FNCN).

In a spate of violent attacks four Nepali churches were targeted during the month of May 2018, according to the persecuted church aid agency, Barnabas Fund.

On 10 May, the day after the conclusion of a youth conference at Hebron Church in Hilihang, eastern Nepal, attackers attempted to set fire to the building overnight. Earlier the same evening, a church in Bindur, western Nepal, was also targeted.

Two days later, a church in Dhangadhi, in the west of the country, was bombed by an explosive device thrown into the building through a window. No Christians were reported injured. Local police insisted that the bombing was the work of Maoist groups, while church leaders suspect the attack was perpetrated by Hindu extremists. A few weeks before the bombing, a threat against churches was published by Hindus in a local newspaper.

The same night as that attack on the church Dhangadhi, a church in Kanchanpur in the far east of Nepal was set on fire. No one was harmed, but church furniture and other items were lost in the blaze.

Nepali government figures state that Christians comprise less than 1.5 per cent of the population. But a rapid growth in Christianity has taken place over the past few decades, with Nepali Christian leaders suggesting the figure may now be closer to 10 per cent.

Elements of the Hindu majority continue to campaign for Nepal to return to being a Hindu Kingdom, as it was before 2008, when the country officially became a secular republic.