Blasts at one of Buddhism's holiest sites

2013-07-07 14:49
Buddhist monks and security officers walk after an explosion on the campus of the Buddhist Great Awakening temple, in Bodh Gaya, India. (Manish Bhandari, AP)

Buddhist monks and security officers walk after an explosion on the campus of the Buddhist Great Awakening temple, in Bodh Gaya, India. (Manish Bhandari, AP)

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Patna - Multiple small bomb blasts at one of Buddhism's holiest sites - the Bodh Gaya temple complex in eastern India - wounded two monks on Sunday but the historic temple was undamaged, police said.

The Indian government called the blasts a "terror attack" after nine bombs exploded at the complex in Bihar state which attracts Buddhists and other visitors from all over the world.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said they earlier warned officials that Islamic militants could target the site as revenge for Buddhist violence against Muslims in neighbouring Myanmar.

"Four blasts took place inside the temple complex," Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters. "Three blasts took place near the Karmapa monastery while one each happened near the Buddha statue and a tourist bus stand outside."

Two more bombs were found and defused at the complex, one of them near the temple's celebrated 24-metre statue of the Buddha, the minister said.

Along with temples, dozens of monasteries housing monks from around the world are located near the complex, which is believed to contain the tree under which the Buddha reached enlightenment in 531 BC.

"The holy bodhi tree is safe and there is no damage to it," Bihar police chief Abhayanand, who goes by one name, told AFP.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts at the complex, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and said that "such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated".

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