Blasts Rock Lashio, Northern Shan State

By Nyein Nyein 16 May 2014

Two explosions rocked the northern Shan State town of Lashio early Friday morning, local police and residents said. No casualties were reported and it was unclear what caused the blasts.

Residents said the explosions occurred at about 3:30 am Friday morning near Kanbawza Bank building in Quarter no.3 and a few minutes later near Corporative Bank in Quarter no.2, not far from Lashio market.

An electric transformer next to the Corporative Bank was destroyed during one blast, while the windows of Kanbawza Bank and shops nearby were destroyed by another explosion, residents said.

Sai Maung Maung, who lives close to the Kanbawza Bank building said, “I thought the sound was from thunder rolling. But when I heard the first explosion, I got out of my house and saw the [damage of the] explosion.”

He said he believed the blasts were caused by bombs.

The police are investigating the case, said an officer from Lashio’s Myoma Police Station. “We cannot share any details as the case is still under investigation,” the officer told The Irrawaddy early Friday afternoon, without elaborating on what caused the blasts.

Sai San Min, an Upper House lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities Development Party in Lashio, said local vegetables sellers were near the explosion as they were setting up their stalls in the early morning. “They packed up their things after hearing the sound of the explosions. No one was hurt,” he said.

Some residents speculated that the blasts were intended to scare the local public ahead of a planned rally by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Lashio on Saturday, where Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will call for amending Burma’s undemocratic 2008 Constitution.

Sai Maung Maung said, “I think it [the explosion] is targeting tomorrow’s rally.”

The NLD and the 88 Generation activists group have launched a nationwide public campaign to call on the ruling party and the military to support constitutional reform. Suu Kyi and 88 leader Min Ko Naing are scheduled to address large public rallies in Rangoon and Mandalay this weekend.

In December, three people were killed when a truck blew up in an apparent bomb attack in Burma’s in Kunlong Township, northern Shan State.

In October, a spate of mysterious small explosive devices—from time-detonated mines to hand grenades—exploded or were discovered around the country. Three people were killed and at least 10 were wounded by bomb blasts in five states and divisions in just a matter of weeks.

Burma’s police declared the bombings in October solved when they arrested eight suspects. Police claimed the suspects had admitted they were paid to plant the bombs by ethnic Karen businessmen who wanted to sow instability and deter foreign investment.