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Security up as Bodh Gaya temple reopens after attack

The Mahabodhi temple here where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment reopened Monday evening after being shut for public following a string of 10 bomb explosions the previous morning.

Police, meanwhile, continued to question a suspect, Vinod Mishtri, a resident of Gaya district, where the revered Buddhist temple is located. A police officer said the man entered the temple in the garb of a monk.

The monk's robe worn by him has been seized, Director General of Police Abhayanand told the media.

On Monday evening, hundreds of Buddhist monks and others took out a peace march in Bodh Gaya, some 110 km from the Bihar capital Patna, and gathered at the main gate where they offered prayers.

The event was held to mark the reopening of the temple.

Mahabodhi temple
Buddhist monks offer prayers while armed Indian security personnel stand guard in the background at the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya on Monday, after the temple re-opened following blasts over the weekend. Pic/AFP 

Gaya District Magistrate D. Balamurugan said the shrine, shut for outsiders after the terror attack, was reopened to the public with special prayers by Buddhist monks.

He said regular prayers at the temple never stopped.

"The prayers were not discontinued after the blasts. Only the public was not allowed entry in view of investigation," he said.

Deputy Inspector General of Police N.H. Khan said security had been stepped up in and around the temple, which is visited by millions from all over the Buddhist world.

A day later, it was still not clear who exploded the 10 low intensity bombs in the complex within 30 minutes -- and why. The explosions injured two monks and caused slight damage to the temple structure.

But it caused panic -- and triggered international condemnation.

Footage from CCTV cameras showed pilgrims -- the young and old -- running away from the temple premises as the bombs began going off.

Two gun-toting security personnel are then seen running into the complex.

Khan said more security forces with high tech equipment would be deployed for round the clock vigilance at the temple.

The Bodh Gaya temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is where the Buddha, who was born in neighbouring Nepal, attained enlightenment around 2,500 years ago.

In Patna, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called for the deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the 1,500-year-old temple.

He said the Bihar government will bear the cost of the CISF deployment.

Nitish Kumar said the temple management had requested police to look after the security inside the temple premises, which was until now at the hands of a private security agency.

He admitted that Bihar had learnt a hard lesson from the terror attack.

In New Delhi, Minister for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi sought a report from the Bihar government on the damage caused to the Mahabodhi temple.

The temple is estimated to have been built between the 5th and 6th century AD.

In Nepal, authorities stepped up security at all major Buddhist shrines following the bomb blasts in India.

A security alert has gone out in Nepal, which is home to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Kapilvastu, where the Buddha spent his early life, is also located in Nepal.  

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