A string of nine near-simultaneous bomb blasts in and around the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya in India’s Bihar state, revered as the birthplace of Buddhism, left two monks injured on July 7. Another two live bombs were reportedly found near the temple and defused There was no damage to the temple, or to the holy bodhi tree within the complex, said to be that under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The right-opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) immediately accused the central and Bihar governments of failing to take steps to avert the attack despite warnings from the intelligence services.
Indian press accounts say the warning came after Delhi Special Cell anti-terror police busted a cell of the Indian Mujahedeen organization which was allegedly responsible for serial blasts in Pune, Maharashtra, last August (which claimed no serious casualties). In interrogations, it was apparently revealed that the group was also planning a fidayeen (suicide) attack at the Mahabodhi temple. Sources also said a meeting to plan the attack was held in Hyderabad, at the house of Obaid-ur-Rehman, a key suspect in the Hyderabad blasts of this February.
The Buddhist shrines in Bodhgaya, a town 130 kilometers south of Patna, attract a large number of pilgrims, especially from Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma. The main pilgrimage starts in September. One of the monks wounded in the attack was apparently a Burmese pilgrim. (NDTV, NDTV, NDTV, PTI, July 7)
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