By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Sobbing and weeping relatives of 12 Nepali nationals who were killed when a suicide bomber struck a minibus in Kabul received the bodies of their loved ones on Wednesday after they were flown from Afghanistan.
The victims were security guards working at the Canadian embassy in Kabul and came under attack on the way to work early on Monday. Two Indian nationals were also killed in the attack which left seven Nepalis wounded.
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"This is the most difficult job for me to receive him dead," said Sanjita Kumari, wife of Jitendra Singh Thapa, who came to the airport in Kathmandu with her 4-month-old son, to receive her husband’s body. "But there is no alternative and I must face it," Kumari told Reuters, her baby pressed to the chest as tears streamed down her face.
Thapa, a former Indian army soldier, had served as a security guard in Iraq before going to war-torn Afghanistan in February this year with a promise to come back in November.
Relatives of the victims like Kumari heard of Monday's attack in the media. She prayed for her husband until being told by the recruitment agency that he was dead.
"This came as a shock to me," the 30-year-old said.
She said Thapa wanted their baby to serve in the British Army that has been recruiting Gurkha soldiers from the foothills of Nepal for 200 years.
Prime Minister K.P. Oli paid tributes to victims by placing marigold garlands on the wooden coffins which were then handed over to the relatives for funerals.
Monday's attack in Kabul was the latest in a surge of violence that highlights the challenges faced by the government and its Western backers, as Washington considers whether to delay plans to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan.
At least 8,000 Nepali nationals are working in Afghanistan, according to the labor department, but actual numbers could be higher as many cross over to India, which shares an open border with Nepal, and then travel on to Afghanistan.
Nepal allows its citizens to work in Afghanistan as security guards at the UN, foreign embassies and their missions.
"The government will study the situation in which Nepalis were targeted after which we will decide whether to continue this," Labor Minister Deepak Bohara told Reuters.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Douglas Busvine)