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Blasts at one of Buddhism's holiest sites: India police

Updated Jul 07, 2013 09:30am

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Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple.—File Photo
Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple.—File Photo

PATNA: Indian police reported multiple low-intensity blasts at the Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple complex on Sunday, saying two people had been wounded but the temple was safe.

Buddhists from all over the world visit the site in eastern Bihar state as it is believed to house the tree under which the Buddha reached enlightenment.

“The holy bodhi tree is safe and there is no damage to it,” Bihar police chief Abhayanand told AFP.

Senior police official Ravinder Kumar said “six low-intensity serial blasts took place early this morning, including four in the temple premises and two outside”.

A seventh bomb was found and defused near the temple's celebrated 80-feet-tall (24 metres) statue of the Buddha, Kumar told AFP.

District police official N.H. Khan told AFP that “additional security forces were deployed” and added the two victims are believed to be Tibetan monks.

Eyewitness and former local legislator Sarbajeet Kumar said he was on his daily morning walk to the temple when the bombs exploded.

“Suddenly I saw smoke and heard the sound of the blasts. I realised that something bad had happened and ran for shelter,” he told local reporters.

Police said they were probing the explosions.

Attacks on Buddhists are rare in India but there have been tensions in the wider region recently following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Bodh Gaya complex, 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of the state capital Patna, is one of the earliest Buddhist temples still standing in India and was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002.

It houses the holy bodhi tree as well as the giant Mahabodhi statue of Buddha, and multiple shrines marking the places where he is believed to have spent time after his enlightenment in 531 BC.

The complex attracts visitors from around the world during the peak tourist season from October to March.

After his meditations beneath the tree, Buddha is said to have devoted the rest of his life to teaching and he founded an order of monks before dying aged 80.