Blasts at East Indian Buddhist sites injure 2

By Indrajit Singh
The Associated Press

PATNA, India (AP) — A series of blasts hit three Buddhist sites in eastern India July 7, injuring at least two people and drawing condemnation from the prime minister.

Senior police officer S.K. Bhardwaj said a gate at one of the two temples that was hit was badly damaged in Bodhgaya, a town 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Patna, the capital of Bihar state. No other damage was reported to the Buddhist sites.

Junior Home Minister R.P.N. Singh said that no one claimed responsibility for the explosions and that an investigation would be carried out to determine who was involved.

Four blasts took place on the grounds of the Mahabodhi Temple, or the Great Awakening Temple, Bhardwaj said. Another four explosions were reported at the nearby Karma temple and at a site with a 55-meter-tall (180-foot-tall) Buddhist tower.

Abhyanand, the director-general of state police, said the blasts ranged from low to high intensity. He also said police recovered two unexploded bombs, which were defused in the area. Abhyanand uses only one name.

A Tibetan and a pilgrim from Myanmar received minor injuries in the blast at the Mahabodhi Temple and were taken to a hospital, Bhardwaj said, adding that a temple gate was badly damaged.

Another explosion damaged an empty tourist bus parked near the Mahabodhi Temple, he said. The temple is a UNESCO world heritage site where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

There were few people at the popular pilgrimage centers, which were targeted for the first time, Bhardwaj said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly condemned the blasts, saying “such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated.”

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, also condemned the explosions.

“It’s very sad. It’s a few individuals,” he told reporters during a visit to the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The Buddhist sites attract a large number of pilgrims, especially from Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, but the main pilgrimage starts in September.

Bhardwaj said there have been intelligence reports about the possibility of attacks on the sites, but he did not give any details. (end)

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