Myanmar beefs up security at Buddhist shrines

Featured South East Asia - July 11th, 2013

Myanmar is strengthening security at Buddhist sites across the country after Sunday’s attack on the Bodh Gaya shrine in India, where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment.

Around 330 security personnel, including police and members of Myanmar’s armed forces, were deployed near the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, a police major in Yangon said.

Authorities say the additional security is a precautionary step amid the increasingly tense climate between Buddhists and Muslims since bloody sectarian violence first erupted in Myanmar a year ago, reports the Financial Times.

Although Indian authorities haven’t identified a motive for Sunday’s blasts, officials in Myanmar fear it may come under similar attacks.

A spokesman for Myanmar president Thein Sein urged Buddhists in the country to be calm in response to the blasts.

“We need no negative reactions or revenge because of this incident,” said Ye Htut, speaking to the Irrawaddy magazine.

The blasts in Bodh Gaya, one of Buddhism’s holiest shrine in India, injured two monks, including one from Myanmar. Indian authorities have arrested one man in connection with the explosions.

Buddhists groups in Myanmar have condemned the attack, labeled by Indian authorities as acts of “terrorists”.