(AFP) – Jan 21, 2008
GUWAHATI, India (AFP) — A string of blasts rocked the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan at the weekend, wounding one person and damaging shops and businesses, a spokesman for the Royal Bhutanese Police said Monday.
The explosions Sunday came as the Buddhist nation was preparing to shift to democracy by holding its first national elections on March 24 after a century of absolute monarchy.
One of the explosive devices went off in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu while the others were detonated in the remote districts of Samste, Chukha and Dagana.
"In all, there were four explosions in which a woman was injured," a senior police official said by telephone from Thimphu, requesting not to be named.
Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel reported the first blast went off near a vegetable market in Samste district.
"The second blast took place (just before noon) in Thimphu. The impact of the explosion shattered window panes of buildings in the area and unnerved shopkeepers and residents. But no injuries were reported," Kuensel said.
"A second explosive device, which did not go off, was found in the same area" in Dagana, the site of the fourth blast, Kuensel said.
The Bhutan police official said all the explosions were suspected to be linked to one of three militant organisations based in Nepal -- the Bhutan Tiger Force, the Bhutan Maoists Party, and the Communist Party of Bhutan.
Bhutan had witnessed a pro-democracy agitation in the 1990s with a section of Nepali-speaking residents in the country's southern areas rising in revolt against the monarchy.
An ensuing crackdown forced Nepali-speaking people from southern Bhutan to flee to Nepal when the Buddhist kingdom launched cultural reforms encouraging the use of the majority language and traditional national dress.
The two sides have met at least 16 times to try to resolve the issue.
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