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Nuns robbed at knife point

Thieves make off with haul of cash and valuables

A police officer collects evidence as Cluny Sister Imelda Gurung looks on A police officer collects evidence as Cluny Sister Imelda Gurung looks on
  • Nepal
  • September 6, 2012
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Six masked men carrying knives robbed a convent in suburban Kathmandu early this morning. They left with mobile phones, cameras, jewelry and 700,000 rupees (US$7,830) in cash.

The robbers climbed through a second floor window in an empty guest room before waking the convent’s four nuns and a young maid.

“They took us in one of the rooms and warned us, saying they would gag us and tie us up if we made the slightest bit of noise. They shut off most of the lights and looked through everything as we waited,” said 75-year-old Sister Imelda Gurung.

“They even took our religious rings from our fingers,”  said Sister Winifred Mukhia, the 63-year-old superior of the convent.The robbers left the convent’s laptops, possibly because they would be more difficult to resell. In total, about US$10,000 worth of property and cash was taken.

The money was for school staff salaries and repairs to the property,  Sister Winifred said.

Police were notified around 4:30 a.m. and came to the convent at 10 a.m. They took samples from a leech that had apparently dropped off a robber and inspected the surrounding area.

The convent is just over 15 kms southeast of central Kathmandu in Godavari, next to a school surrounded by corn fields.

A guard who sleeps near the gate said the men seemed to be drunk, mostly in their early 20s and from a local tribe.  They left within a half an hour, said Dhurba Budathoki.

“They forced their way into my room, put a khukuri [Gurkha knife] to my throat from behind, before gagging me with my pillow cover,” Budathoki said.

“This used to be  a peaceful place located next to the botanical gardens, but now even picnickers get robbed in daytime,” said Budathoki, who hails from the area. “Two weeks ago, in a similar incident, some robbers tied up some people in a house at night and ran away with their belongings.”

The Cluny sisters, many of whom are ethnic Nepalese from the Darjeeling region in India, teach and run schools in east Nepal and Kathmandu. They have expanded their work to mid-western Nepal in Hetauda, Gorkha, and Pokhara in the last five years.

The sisters said they get foreign volunteers to teach in their school in Godavari from time to time and seeing them may have tempted local youths.
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