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No group claims responsibility yet

New Delhi, July 7: The serial blasts at the Buddhist shrine in Bodhgaya were an act of terror, the Union home ministry said today.

“It was a terror attack. We have sent teams of the National Investigation Agency and the National Security Guard for a detailed probe into the explosions,” Union home secretary Anil Goswami said, adding no group has as yet claimed responsibility.

A ministry official said that the nature of the explosives used in the nine blasts was still not known.

Sources in the ministry said they had alerted the Bihar government twice this year — in June and earlier in January — and also in October last year, about the possibility of a terror attack on the Mahabodhi temple, based on inputs from the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi police.

Last October, a Delhi police team claimed is had solved the Pune serial blasts case and averted terror strikes in Delhi and Bodhgaya with the arrest of three suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists.

The home ministry today sought a report from the state. “We had cautioned the Bihar government about possible terror attacks. An Intelligence Bureau (IB) warning had been conveyed to the state but even then security inside and outside the temple was far less than desired,” a source said.

Following the serial blasts in Gaya, the Union home ministry issued an advisory to all states to step up vigil and strengthen security at historical monuments and places of worship.

In the advisory, the ministry directed states to ensure foolproof security at Buddhist temples and Tibetan settlements in the wake of the continuing violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.

“We have asked all states, including cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune, to strengthen security arrangements at Buddhist shrines, Buddhist places of worships and Tibetian settlements,” said an official. The states have been asked to enhance intelligence and security mechanism at police stations under whose jurisdiction there is a sizeable Buddhist population or Buddhist shrines are located.

Asked whether the ministry is considering deployment of CISF personnel in and around Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya following the Bihar chief minister’s demand to protect the Buddhist shrine after the explosion, a home ministry official said: “We have sought a detailed report from Bihar government before taking a final decision.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukerjee condemned the terror attacks.

“The Prime Minister has strongly condemned the blasts at Bodhgaya. He has said that our composite culture and traditions teach us respect for all religions and such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated,” said a press statement from Prime Minister’s Office.