Twin blasts rock Bhutan ahead of King’s wedding

KOLKATA: Days before Bhutan King’s wedding, twin explosions rocked Phuentsholing on Monday evening, a small town bordering Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Following the serial blast, state police have alerted cops in all six north Bengal district fearing further sabotage.

Locals at Jaigaon – the Indian town – yards away from Phuentsholing said that around 6 pm, they heard two huge thud within couple of minutes and people started running towards India through Bhutan gate in panic. Bhutan police and Royal Bhutanese Army took control over the explosion site soon after the incident and closed down the border gate for security reasons.

Sources said two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted at the crowded market area of the town, hardly 50 meters from the border gate. “A bomb was hidden in dustbin and another was planted behind flower tubs in front of Hotel Pelzong,” sources said. Intelligence officers said that low intensity IEDs were used in the explosion.

Bhutan government is yet to announce the number of the injured, but sources said among dozens of injured one is an Indian citizen. “He is a native of Jaigaon. He went inside Bhutan for some work and sustained sharpnel injuries following the blast”, said BL Balia, president of Jaigaon trader’s association.

Intelligence officers have reasons to believe that militant groups who are against the Bhutan monarch have planned the explosion before the king’s wedding ceremony. Though intelligence officers are yet to confirm the group behind the blasts, they suspect the anti-monarchy Communist Party of Bhutan (Maoist).

Months ago, on May 23, insurgents triggered explosion at Phuentsholing and Gelephu – both border towns in Bhutan. In 2006 and 2008 similar explosion left scores injured at Phuentsholing.

Indian intelligence officers however have reason to believe the anti-talk group of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland may have connection with the blast, as both groups are believed to have camped inside Bhutan after they were flushed out from Bangladesh. “They have close links with Bhutan Maoists and another insurgent group United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan,” said an officer.

Additional SP of Alipurduar, Anup Jaiswal is now camping at Jaigaon. The Bhutan authority has not allowed Indian police to enter Bhutan and investigate the blasts, but they were asked to keep tab on the development through Bhutan high commission. Police at Jalpaiguri and Assam have initiated a combing operation along border.

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