One killed in Bhutan explosion, security alert sounded

March 15th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by admin  

Thimphu, March 15 (IANS) Bhutan has put its security forces on a maximum alert after one person was killed in an explosion ahead of the historic parliamentary elections March 24, officials said Saturday. A Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) spokesman said the blast took place Thursday at the western district of Dagana with the man killed while handling the explosive device kept at his house.

“The victim, Bik Bahadur Subba, died while the bomb went off accidentally at his house. A militant cadre named Ramesh Subba of the Communist Party of Bhutan based in Nepal had kept the bomb at the house of the deceased,” a senior RBP official told IANS requesting not to be named.

Thursday’s blast was the sixth explosion to have rocked the otherwise peaceful and isolated Buddhist nation since the Jan 20 blast, in which one person was injured and some government and private buildings damaged.

“Ramesh Subba, along with three other militants, were responsible for planting two bombs on January 20,” the official said.

Bhutan has held the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist) responsible for the spate of bombings.

“Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas with a general alert sounded to prevent any such attacks ahead of the elections,” the official said.

Bhutan’s security forces in February busted two Maoist militant camps and have captured at least eight communist rebels with weapons.

“The camps that we had busted were in Serphang and Samdrup Jongkhar districts,” Bhutan’s Deputy Chief of Police Kipchu Namgyel said.

The busting of the two Maoist camps in southern Bhutan districts, bordering the northeastern Indian state of Assam, has concerned authorities in the Buddhist nation of 700,000 people, getting ready for its first parliamentary elections March 24.

The Communist Party of Bhutan has threatened to disrupt the elections to Bhutan’s National Assembly or the lower house of parliament that would formalize the nation’s transformation from an absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy.

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 thousands of Nepali-speaking people from southern Bhutan to flee to Nepal. Now an estimated 100,000 people are sheltered in relief camps.

There are reports that the Maoists are formed of aggrieved refugees now based in Nepal.

The busting of the Maoist camps in areas bordering India’s Assam state raises speculations on the possibility of the rebels sneaking into the poorly-policed Himalayan nation through the porous border along Assam.

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