Twin Blasts Rock Bhutan Ahead of Royal Wedding

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Two explosions have rocked a border town in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, just days before the wedding of the country's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Local officials said the twin blasts late Monday in Phuentsholing, bordering India, wounded several people, including at least one Indian national. They said the blasts occurred in a busy market near a border crossing.

No one has claimed responsibility.

Bhutan is a tiny nation of only 635-thousand people. It is wedged between China and India. It takes great measures to preserve its culture, allowing television only in 1999 and still restricting foreigners' access to the country.

In late 2006, Wangchuck's father, King Jigme Singye, voluntarily stepped down and commanded that a constitution be drafted and the country shift to a parliament-based democracy. Bhutan held its first democratic election in March 2008, ending 100 years of absolute monarchy.

The former king pursued a policy of Gross National Happiness, a political philosophy that measures progress and its citizens' well-being.

Western-educated hereditary monarch Wangchuck is the fifth Druk Gyalpo, or king of the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Some of his subjects also refer to him as “The People's King.”

Wangchuck's coronation in November 2008 as Bhutan's first constitutional king culminated a two-year transfer of royal power from his father.