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Central & South Asia

Serial blasts hit Buddhist site in India

At least two people injured after multiple low-intensity explosions rock famous temple complex at Bodhgaya.

Last Modified: 07 Jul 2013 11:00
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Pilgrims visit the site believed to contain the tree under which the Buddha reached enlightenment [AFP]

At least two people have been wounded after multiple low-intensity blasts hit a Buddhist temple complex in the eastern state of Bihar, police say.

Police said that eight blasts took place early on Sunday on the campus of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya. Three other explosions were reported at the nearby Karma temple and a shrine with a 55m-high Buddhist tower.

The site attracts thousands of pilgrims every year, the centre of attraction being a huge tree under which Buddha was supposed to have sat and gained enlightenment.

"The holy bodhi tree is safe and there is no damage to it," Bihar police chief Abhayanand told the AFP news agency while confirming the blasts and injuries.

Senior police officer S K Bhardwaj told the AP news agency a gate at one of the shrines was badly damaged.

No other damage was reported to the Buddhist centres.

One Tibetan and one pilgrim from Myanmar received minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, Bhardwaj said.

Another explosion damaged an empty tourist bus parked near the Mahabodhi Temple, he said. 

"A terror attack"

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the blasts at the complex saying "such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated."

Indian home secretary Anil Goswami called the blasts "a terror attack" but no one has so far claimed responsibility, according to the Press Trust of India.

The national government has sent two teams of investigators to probe the blasts, said Goswami, the top interior ministry official.

District police official N H Khan told AFP that "additional security forces were deployed" while the NDTV channel reported that another unexploded device had been discovered.

The Bodhgaya complex, 110km south of the state capital Patna, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

The temple complex houses the holy bodhi tree as well as the giant Mahabodhi statue of Buddha, and multiple shrines.

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.

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