Serial blasts rock Buddhist shrine

Serial blasts rock  Buddhist shrine
Highlights

Two monks injured; no damage to Maha Bodhi Temple complex First of its kind to target UNESCO heritage...

Two monks injured; no damage to Maha Bodhi Temple complex
  • First of its kind to target UNESCO heritage site
  • Both Centre and State affirm it's a terrorist strike
  • No group claims responsibility
Bodh Gaya (Agencies): In a well coordinated terror attack, nine low-intensity serial blasts targeted the world renowned pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya and Maha Bodhi Temple complex, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines, early Sunday morning that left two monks injured. Blast Frequented by Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and the whole of southeast Asia, the temple and the Bodhi Tree, under which Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment, did not suffer any damage in the blasts which shook the holy town in Bihar State. The explosions, the first of its type to target the town and the temple, a UNESCO heritage site, took place between 5:30 and 5:58 am. Last year, the Delhi Police claimed to have foiled a 'fidayeen' attack in the town with the arrest of suspected Indian Mujahideen elements to avenge "atrocities" against Muslims in Myanmar. No group has claimed responsibility for what the Centre and state government have described as a terror attack in a region where Maoists have a strong foothold. "While four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, three occurred in Karmapa monastery, one each near the famous 80-ft Buddha statue and at the bus stand near bypass," DIG Magadh range Nayyer Hussnain Khan said. "In Bodh Gaya Temple, the police security arrangements are only outside the temple while the security inside is looked after by temple trust officials. The sanctum sanctorum of the Mahabodhi Temple is intact. The temple premises have been sanitised," Khan said. Arvind Singh, a member of Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee, said the two injured included a national of Myanmar and another of Tibet. They have been admitted to Magadh Medical College and Hospital, he said. Singh said two other bombs, one near the 80-ft-high statue and one at bus stand had been defused. "There were four blasts inside the temple premises. Fortunately, there was no damage to the Bodhi Tree or the main temple structure. In the first blast which took place near the Bodhi tree, a table was blown up because of which two persons were injured. The second blast, I think, was inside the enclosure where books were kept. The furniture was damaged but there was no damage to the monuments or statues," Arvind Singh said. Asked about the nature of explosives used, S K Bharadwaj, ADG (Law and Order) said they were low intensity time bombs. "We got information about six-seven months back that there may be a terror attack on the Mahabodhi Temple. After that we had beefed up security and deployed extra forces". Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said in New Delhi that serial explosions inside and outside the Mahabodhi Temple were clearly a terror attack and NIA and NSG teams had been sent for post-blasts investigations. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who rushed to the blast site from Patna, about 100 km from Bodh Gaya, demanded deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for protection of the shrine. Meanwhile, with reports that central agencies had warned about this attack and given specific inputs to the state, BJP and other opposition parties accused the Centre and the Bihar government of having failed to take steps to avert the terror strike. "It is a serious issue that central agencies had warned about this attack and given specific inputs that Bodh Gaya would be attacked and still no proper arrangements were made (by the state government). The Central government must also take responsibility to avoid such attacks," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
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