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Bomb kills 10 in Bangladesh church

A bomb exploded inside a Catholic church during Mass on Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 25 others in southwestern Bangladesh, according to police.

Nine worshippers died instantly in the Christian Mission Church in Baniarchar village in Gopalganj district, 160 km southwest of Dhaka. Another died on the way to hospital. At least two of the wounded are in critical condition, doctors said.

"I was deep into prayer when I heard a big bang. The hall was engulfed in smoke. Everyone was screaming," Hubert Bairagi, one of the survivors, was quoted as saying by United News of Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the bombing in her home district and ordered an immediate investigation.

"The culprits must be nabbed and punished," he said in a statement.

Dozens of church members had gathered for morning prayers when the bomb went off behind a wooden shelf of bibles and religious books in one corner of the tin-roofed church, head priest Fr Mimmo said in a telephone interview.

No one has claimed responsibility.

Religious attacks against minority Christians are not common in Bangladesh, where Christians account for a little more than 1% of Bangladesh's 130 million people. Muslims make up 88% of the population and Hindus 10%.