The dragon kingdom of Bhutan was rocked by four powerful bomb blasts on Sunday in four different districts.
Although no one was killed, and only one woman was injured, the timing of the blasts when the kingdom is on the verge of a transition to democracy, has caused concern worldwide. An alert has been sounded and vigil along the Indo-Bhutan borders in Assam and North Bengal has been intensified.
Bhutanese and Indian officials told Hindustan Times that the four blasts ocurred between 11.15 am and 2.05 pm, including in the heart of Thimpu, the capital. The first bomb went off at 11.15 am near a vegetable market in Samste town in the south of the country. The second went off at 11.45 am in Thimpu town near SNS Market. The third blast in which a woman was injured occurred at 1.25 pm near the gate of the Tala Guest House at Gedu in Chukha district. The fourth one struck at 2.05 pm in Dagapela, in Dagana district. Officials said a second explosive device, which did not go off was found in the same area.
According to a spokesperson for the Royal Bhutan Police, three militant outfits — the Bhutan Tiger Force, the Bhutan Maoist Party and the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) are suspected to be behind the blasts. However none of the outfits have claimed the responsibility so far.
All three outfits have been branding the ongoing democratic exercise in Bhutan as a mere political gimmick played by the government to hoodwink the international community. They have also been demanding immediate repatriation of more than one lakh Bhutanese refugees staying in Nepal to Bhutan and their participation in the democratic process.
The CPB (MLM) had threatened to start an armed movement inside Bhutan before the next round of polls. The election to Bhutan’s Upper House of Parliament the National Council was held in December 31. The election for National Assembly the lower house of parliament is likely in the mid of 2008.