At least three bombs placed in mini gas cylinders at the Bodhgaya temple complex failed to explode as their analogue clock timer device stopped working under the impact of other bombs that exploded close to them,investigators said on Monday.
The bombs were more or less similar to the ones used in serial blasts in Hyderabad and Pune in the last one year,sources said. The main difference was the gas cylinder container in which the explosives were packed.
They said there were at least three spots,two outside the complex and one inside,where the bombs had been placed in pairs to explode early on Sunday morning.
Officers of security agencies said they had managed to defuse these bombs which were already defunct as their circuit could not be completed after the clock stopped working. The bombs were connected with a 9-volt battery to trigger the explosion and Lotus brand clocks were used.
A senior National Security Guard officer said this was the first time since 2008 that analogue clocks had been used in bombs.
The bomb-makers had drilled holes into mini gas cylinders after taking out all the gas. Around 200-300 grams of ammonium nitrate was packed with ball-bearings,nails and shrapnel in each container and they were timed to explode between 5.25 am and 5.30 am, one officer said. The cylinders also had the names of locations where the bombs had to be planted written in English,Hindi and Urdu.
Two cylinders had been placed on the Buddha statue outside the temple complex,which is as high as 16 feet. It is strange nobody noticed the movements, he said. Another bomb was fitted next to the fuel tank of an ambulance. It had instructions in English,saying: Below tourist bus used by monastery. Although it exploded it did not impact the fuel tank of the ambulance.
A monks robe and an empty rucksack have also been recovered from the temple area,sources said.
Investigators are also exploring if the blasts had any link to the visit to Bodhgaya by Myanmarese Science and Technology Minister Dr Ko Ko Oo a day before the attack,sources said. The minister visited the temple on Saturday and security agencies are not ruling out the possibility that he may have been the target and the bombers got the timing of his visit wrong.
Intelligence agencies have warned that Islamist terrorists could target Bodhgaya in retaliation for the attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Till Sunday night there was information about only nine blasts that had taken place in Bodhgaya. But as per the information on Monday,there were 10 blasts and a total of 13 IEDs were kept in the premises, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said in Pune. Investigating agencies have specific leads on which they are working.
Security agencies suspect that the module that carried out the attack consisted of four or five people who carried the cylinders to the spot. The writing on the cylinders in Urdu suggests that the attack was planned to precision and those who planted the bombs were not familiar with the area.
It could be for these reasons that directions were written on these cylinders. It is also possible that the attackers wanted to mislead investigators, claimed an official.
As reported by The Indian Express on Monday,the 16 CCTV cameras installed inside the complex have not been of much use to investigators as only one camera was able to record the explosion and the movement of a possible suspect.
The other CCTV recording released by Bihar Police only shows the melee after the explosions. The footage obtained from the temple authorities have not been of much help so far, said a NIA officer.
The agency also said that it is too early to blame any group but added that the timing of the blasts have taken them by surprise as it is possible the attackers wanted to convey the message that they can carry out a bigger attack at a time of their choosing.
Security sources said it was difficult for the local administration to identify suspects due to the large number of foreigners visiting the holy centre.
The union home ministry said that it has so far not received a request from the Bihar government to deploy CISF at the temple and that it would consider the request when received. No religious place in the country has been given CISF cover while the CRPF guards some historically important places,said an official.
Based on inputs from intelligence agencies,police had carried out a security check of the same premises. We cannot call this a lapse as of now. A further inquiry into the matter would reveal if anyone is to be held responsible, Shinde said.
The home minister also denied the NSG and NIA teams had reached Bodhgaya late.
They did not take that long. The NSG and NIA teams had started from Delhi but their plane had to return to Delhi due to bad weather. They were sent again sometime later. We also must keep in mind that in every individual state,NIA teams are stationed. The teams from Bihar rushed to the spot immediately after the incident. The experts and higher ranked officers who are stationed in Delhi,reached later. So it will be wrong to conclude that they reached late because the probe had already begun, he said. – with inputs from Sushant Kulkarni in Pune