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Nepal Chooses Communist Prime Minister


Nepal's parliament has chosen a moderate Communist leader as prime minister in an attempt to end weeks of political turmoil.

Madhav Kumar Nepal was unopposed during the vote Saturday in Kathmandu which took place just hours after a bomb blast at a church south of the capital killed two people.

Mr. Nepal leads (the Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist Leninist or CPN/UML- ) one of Nepal's several communist parties. He replaces Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, who resigned this month in a dispute with Nepal's president.

Prachanda stepped down after rejection of his attempt to fire the Nepal's army chief because he refused to bring former Maoist fighters into government military forces.

The Maoists stormed out of parliament before the vote, calling the selection of a new leader a "farce."

Earlier Saturday, a 30-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl died when a bomb exploded at the Church of the Assumption in the Dhobighat area (in Lalitpur district), outside Kathmandu.

Witnesses say the bomb was hidden in a bag and exploded when someone moved it.

Police and eyewitnesses say the bomb detonated as worshippers gathered for a morning service.

Officials say the dead girl was a high-school student from (neighboring) India. Fifteen people were injured.

There was no direct claim of responsibility, but police said they found leaflets at the scene from a Hindu extremist group, the Nepal Defense Army, which wants the former kingdom, now a secular republic, to become a Hindu state once again.

Nepal was officially a Hindu nation until 2006, when it became a secular state following dissolution of the monarchy at the end of a decade of civil war.
Sectarian violence has been rare, but the Nepal Defense Army claimed responsibility for killing a Christian missionary last year.

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