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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   8 July 2013  

Bodhgaya temple in India attacked

Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai (07.07.2013)

According to the on-line news of Bangkok Post, multiple small bomb blasts hit the historic Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple complex in Bihar, India on Sunday, wounding two monks, police said, but luckily the temple itself was not damaged.

Buddhists from all over the world visit the site in Bodhgaya, which is believed to house 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 told AFP.

Senior police official SK Bharadwaj explained that eight low-intensity serial blasts took place early in the morning, injuring two monks, a 50-year-old Tibetan and a 30-year-old Burmese.

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

Attacks on Buddhists are rare in India, but there have been tensions in the wider region recently, following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Bodh Gaya complex, 110 kilometres south of the state capital Patna, is one of the earliest Buddhist temples still standing in India and was named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

The complex attracts visitors from around the world during the peak tourist season from October to March and is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India, next to Lumpini Park in today's Nepal, where Buddha was born, Sarnath near Varanasi, where Buddha started teaching, and Kusinagara, where Buddha died aged 80 years.

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