Two monks injured as serial blasts rock Bodh Gaya

Patna, July 7 (IANS) Two Buddhist monks were injured Sunday in a string of bombings at Bihar's 1,500-year old Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya where the Buddha attained enlightenment, police said.

The first bomb went off at about 5.15 a.m. and it was followed by a series of blasts, triggering panic. The bombings lasted about half an hour.

"Eight blasts took place early Sunday, including two near the Bodhi tree inside the temple compound," Additional Director General of Police S.K. Bhardwaj told IANS over telephone.

He said that two live bombs were found including one near a 80-feet statue of Buddha and another near Karmapa temple, hardly a few metres from the Mahabodhi temple. Both bombs were later defused by a team of experts.

Bhardwaj said that two Buddhist monks were injured -- one a Tibetan and the other Myanmarese.

"Injured Tibetan is identified as Tenzing Dorjee, 50, and the injured Myanmarese is Vilas Ga, 30," Bhardwaj said.

The blasts did not cause any damage to the temple and the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment, a police officer told IANS over telephone from Bodh Gaya in Gaya district, located about 110 km from here.

"The route to the temple and its neighbouring areas including monasteries of different countries were totally sealed-off and security forces were deployed," N.H. Khan, a police officer said.

The temple at Bodh Gaya was built at the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002.

The Mahabodhi temple is one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India and has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries.

Unesco describes it as one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely from brick in the late Gupta period. The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural reliefs in stone.

The temple complex has direct associations with the life of the Lord Buddha (566-486 BC) as the place where in 531 BC he attained the supreme and perfect insight while seated under the Bodhi tree, said the Unesco website.

The Bihar government has sounded a high alert in Bodh Gaya and other sensitive places across the state.

"Police are on high alert after the serial blasts," Additional Director General of Police Ravinder Kumar said.

"Additional security forces have been deployed at Mahabodhi temple and police have launched an investigation," Kumar added.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with top officials rushed to Bodh Gaya.

Intelligence agencies had last month warned the district authorities about a security threat to the temple.

Last year, the security of the Mahabodhi temple was handed over to the Special Task Force (STF) of Bihar Police.

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