A series of small bombs exploded at one of Buddhism’s holiest sites in India today, wounding two monks.
The blasts targeted the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya, 68 miles south of Bihar state capital Patna.
Four bombs went off inside the temple, three bombs exploded at the Terega monastery, one exploded near an 80-feet-tall Buddha statue and another bomb was detonated by a vacant tourist bus parked close to the temple complex, the Hindustan Times reported. Police defused two live bombs in the town and a third bomb in a nearby village.
Buddhists from all over the world visit the site in Bihar state, 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.
The terror attack was a surprise in this pilgrimage town, which hosts hundreds of thousands of Buddhist tourists each year.
According to the New York Times:
Just a few months ago, the Mahabodhi temple gate was manned by mere two armed security personnel, who spent most of their time chasing away persistent beggars.
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 Bihal police chief told reporters that security has been increased at the temple and police were studying CCTV footage for clues leading to the terrorists.
“After the first blast, the temple was engulfed in black smoke,” Rakesh Kumar, who runs a coffee shop outside the temple complex, told the New York Times. “I saw such a panic near the temple for the first time. It was really terrifying. I am grateful that Lord Buddha saved us.”
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.