Bombers targeted giant Buddha idol in India

Attackers who staged serial blasts at one of Buddhism's holiest sites this week also placed a bomb on a giant stone-carved idol of the Buddha that did not explode, police said Tuesday.

Ten small devices went off early Sunday in the Bodh Gaya temple complex in eastern Bihar state, wounding two monks, while three others were defused before they could explode in the historic shrine.

Police and temple managers said Tuesday that an explosive device had also been fixed almost half way up the 80-foot (24-metre) Buddha idol at the complex, which was built in 1981 with Japanese funding.

"The bomb was defused by experts," senior local police officer Chandan Kushwaha told AFP.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police in the capital said they had received intelligence that Islamic militants could target the site as revenge for Buddhist violence against Muslims in neighbouring Myanmar.

Along with temples, dozens of monasteries housing monks from around the world dot the Bodh Gaya complex, which is said to be the site where the Buddha reached enlightenment in 531 BC.

The centrepiece of the complex is the site of the holy Bodhi tree, under which Buddha is said to have meditated. A sapling of the original tree was unharmed in the attacks on Sunday.

Police are studying CCTV footage and they have arrested a man for questioning over the attacks, which happened shortly after sunrise on Sunday.

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

In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed monumental Buddha idols carved into a hill in Bamiyan province of Afghanistan.