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Nepal curfew after Iraq killings

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Militants have killed 23 hostages in Iraq in recent months.
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KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Nepal's government has issued a curfew in Kathmandu after violence broke out in retaliation for the killing of 12 Nepalese hostages in Iraq.

The offices of Qatar Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines in the capital were torched and several mosques in the city are under tight security, as protesters surround the Muslim places of worship.

Nepal's ambassador to Qatar, Somananda Suman, confirmed the deaths Tuesday and said the government had requested that the bodies be returned to Nepal.

He said the men were hired by a Jordanian company to work in Amman and then taken to Iraq to work. Nepal forbids its citizens to go to Iraq.

Nepalese heard the news Tuesday evening and rallied until about midnight.

The curfew, which will go into effect at 2 p.m. (0815 GMT), was issued after widespread reports of violence against Muslims, which make up less than four percent of Nepal's population.

Nepal is an official Hindu state.

There were unconfirmed reports of injuries in several attacks.

Some protesters attacked several employment agencies, including Moonlight Consultants which sent seven of the 12 Nepalis to Jordan.

Reporter Akxilesh Upadxyay, who was in Kathmandu, told CNN that many Nepalese felt humiliated, and believed the men were killed because Nepal is a small, poor country.

An Islamic Web site had posted still images and a video of what it said was the killing of the Nepalis held hostage by a militant group in Iraq calling itself Jaish Ansar al-Sunna. (Full story)

The group claimed last week to have kidnapped the group "for their cooperation with the United States in fighting Islam and its people" and described them as working for a Nepalese company that works under a Jordanian firm doing business in Iraq.

The deaths are the largest mass killing of captives in the grueling war against the insurgency that has followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, which claimed August 23 to have kidnapped the 12 Nepalis, said they were killed "for their cooperation with the United States in fighting Islam and its people."

Images of the hostages in the videotape aired last week.

The claims come at a time that another Islamic group is holding two French journalists hostage, threatening to kill them unless the government of France revokes a law banning Muslim girls from wearing head scarves in state schools.

The deadline for executing the two, which would have come Tuesday night in Baghdad, has been pushed back to Wednesday night, an Arab League official said.(Full story)

CNN has confirmed 23 hostages have been killed by militants in Iraq. The dead include one American, two Bulgarians, a Dane, two Italians, one Lebanese, two Pakistanis, a South Korean, a Turk and the 12 Nepalis.

In four other incidents, different groups have claimed to have killed hostages, but CNN has been unable to independently confirm any of the information.

In the most recent, a video posted in early August shows a man claiming to be an Egyptian spying for the Americans before he is decapitated.

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