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Explosion rocks Bhutan again

world Updated: Feb 04, 2008 18:05 IST

IANS
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A powerful explosion rocked Bhutan on Monday while two more bombs were defused, the latest in a string of blasts in the otherwise peaceful and isolated Himalayan kingdom, officials said.

A Royal Bhutan Police spokesman said the bomb exploded behind a government office at Ghmauney village in Samste district in the morning.

"There were no casualties in the blast although investigating officials recovered leaflets of the Communist Party of Bhutan based in Nepal from the scene threatening to stop the National Assembly election due March 24," a police official said requesting anonymity.

Two bombs were recovered and later defused by the police from near the blast site - one of the explosives was planted near a local councillor's office where two election officials for the March 24 parliamentary polls were staying.

On Jan 20, four explosions took place, including one at capital Thimphu, injuring one woman and damaging shops and businesses.

The Royal Bhutan Police accused one of three militant groups - Bhutan Tiger Force, Bhutan Maoists Party and Communist Party of Bhutan, all based in Nepal - of triggering the Jan 20 serial blasts.

The country had witnessed a pro-democracy agitation in the 1990s with a section of Nepali-speaking residents in its southern parts rising in revolt against the monarchy.

The crackdown that followed led to thousands of Nepali-speaking people from southern Bhutan fleeing to Nepal. Now an estimated 100,000 people are sheltered in relief camps.

The Himayalan kingdom is heading for its first-ever parliamentary election on March 24 to elect 47 members to the National Assembly or the Lower House as Bhutan makes a historic switchover from monarchy to democracy. The Bhutanese have already cast their votes for National Council or the Upper House in December.

Meanwhile, Bhutan police detained a 17-year-old student who was caught with three hand grenades.

"The boy confessed that the grenades were given to him by a militant based in Jhapa in eastern Nepal in December last year and he was given lessons in handling grenades," the police official said.