Arsonists have attempted to set fire to Assumption Cathedral, the first public Catholic place of worship in Hindu-majority Nepal.

Fr Ignatius Rai, parish priest at the cathedral, said “unknown persons” broke into the church premises at about 3am. 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 burned. No casualties were reported.

“This is shocking. The local Christian community is now living under threat,” Fr Rai told ucanews.com.

This is a second time the church has been targeted. A bomb exploded there in 2009, killing three people, including a schoolgirl. Ram Prasad Mainali, a Hindu extremist leader, was arrested in connection with the incident.

Fr Silas Bogati, a former parish priest at Assumption Cathedral, told ucanews.com: “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 organisation.”

A statement from the parish said: “The Catholic Church has been involved in social work for half a decade now and will continue with our work despite the frequent attacks.” It added that no one should allow the attack to disrupt religious harmony in the country.

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