Nepal Muslims call general strike to protest mosque bombing

A general strike called by Muslim groups to protest the weekend bombing of a mosque shut down parts of eastern Nepal on Monday, officials said. Two people were killed and two more were seriously injured in the attack on the mosque in Biratnagar during evening prayers on Saturday. The chief government administrator in the area, Madhav Regmi, said schools, markets and transportation were shut down in Biratnagar, about 250 miles east of Katmandu, and surrounding areas. The bombing was the first targeting a mosque in predominantly Hindu Nepal, where Muslims are a minority. No serious conflicts have occurred in the past between followers of the two religions. Regmi said he met Monday with Muslim leaders who were concerned about the security situation and demanded that the government compensate the victims' families. Police were still searching for the attackers and have not arrested any suspects, Regmi said. A group calling itself the Nepal Defense Army claimed responsibility for the attack. It sent a statement to the independent Kantipur Television network saying it "would continue such attacks until Nepal is reinstated as a Hindu nation." Nepal was declared a secular state in 2006.