Burma Police Say Karen Businessmen Plotted Bombings

Myanmar, Burma, Rangoon, Yangon, bombings, Karen State, Karen National Union, Karen National Liberation Army, foreign investment

Police officers stand beside a table of explosive devices which were discovered over the past week in five divisions and states, at a press conference on Friday at the Rangoon Division government office. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Rangoon Division’s police chief says a group of ethnic Karen businessmen allegedly planned the recent string of bomb blasts in Burma to scare off foreign investors from their resource-rich Karen State.

The police have detained eight suspects following bomb blasts in several states and divisions over the past week, the police chief said on Friday.

“They [the eight suspects] were from a group of mining businessmen. We will also arrest more suspects,” Zaw Win told reporters at a press conference in Rangoon. “They intended to ward off foreign investors.”

Burma is emerging as an untapped market for foreign investment as it emerges from nearly half a century of military dictatorship. Ethnic states have attracted particular attention because they are rich in natural resources.

The police chief identified one detained bombing suspect as Nay Toe, who manages a mining project in Karen State. A group of Karen businessmen allegedly offered Nay Toe a permit for a gold mine if he successfully planted bombs at hotels and restaurants, the police chief said

He said another detainee, Saw Myint Lwin, reportedly served in the past with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of a Karen rebel group known as the Karen National Union (KNU). The police say the homemade bombs found in various states and divisions across the country were the same type that the KNU used in attacks against the government army over decades of civil war.

The KNU signed a ceasefire with the government last year, and a senior general from the KNLA insisted that the rebel group should not be linked to the bombings.

“We are staying in the jungle. We do not know anything about these bombings,” Gen Saw Johnny, commander-in-chief of the KNLA, told The Irrawaddy. “We don’t know who did it and we also do not have any evidence to provide. It is not our members who have done this.”

Three people were killed and at least 10 people have been wounded by bomb blasts in five states and divisions since late last week. The attacks garnered international attention on Monday when an American woman was injured by a bomb that went off in her hotel room at the high-end Traders Hotel in downtown Rangoon.

In northern Shan State, where a bomb blast on Thursday left one person dead, one person seriously wounded and five others slightly injured, a police investigation is ongoing, the police chief said.

Ye Htut, the deputy minister of information and a spokesman for President Thein Sein, said the KNU had agreed to help the government investigate the recent bomb blasts and search for more suspects.

“Our working peace process with the KNU has not been damaged because of the bomb blasts,” the presidential spokesman told reporters at the press conference. “Leaders of the KNU would have no desire to do this [plot the attacks].”

6 Responses to Burma Police Say Karen Businessmen Plotted Bombings

  1. The bombings were obviously politically motivated, seeing the small size of the blasts, perhaps not meaning to do much damage. ..
    Those whosoever want to shatter the upcoming pace workings must have done this mischief.
    Some Karens ca n be bought and asked to do the bombings, or just as likely, any body could be hired for that matter. I think it is to do with the opponents of constitutional reform and/or federalism.

  2. This is politic- there is no permanent friend nor foe. Your enemy can be your friend- it is true. Beofore “KNU did it” but now “KNU would have no desire to do it” Can they be permanent friend? cross your fingers.

  3. Really sad to hear this. Just for one group of people to profit, they don’t care pulling down the whole country (I mean for the good of whole ethnic groups and states).
    No ethnic group must dominate other ethnic group and we should stay in the Federal system (local communal/village tax, state tax, federal tax with local state governements to decide for their own state affairs.
    Respect of other minority ethnics staying in other states. Example: There are more Karen living in Irrawaddy division than in whole of Karen state, etc..) and we should combine together for the profit of all ( The Ferderal Union of Myanmar). One for all and All for one.

  4. Police force must not draw conclusion too early. The suspects must be charged and tried in the court of law allowing them to face fair trials. The wrong persons may get guilty verdict as the regime did many times in the past. KNU must investigate thoroughly and let the world know that Myanmar regime was responsible for these attacks. Sagaing and Namkham are not Karen’s territories. It is difficult to believe for us that these explosions were from KNU.

  5. What kind of news and who reported it.Very inconclusiv and inaccurate. Who is the business man? I hope that he is not John Do.

  6. I don’t think the Karen men will do this blasts. Before you blame on Karen People you must investigate this more detail.

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