Bomb Blast Kills at Least Three People in Northern Shan State

By Lawi Weng 17 December 2013

RANGOON — At least three people were killed Tuesday when a truck blew up in an apparent bomb attack in Burma’s northern Shan State, according to a local resident and a news report.

A resident of Kunlong Township told The Irrawaddy that a makeshift truck normally used to carry agricultural products blew up as it drove over a bridge on the way into Kunlong town, which is located only about 10 miles from the Burma-China border.

The resident, who requested not to be named, said the driver of the truck was killed instantly in the blast. The truck was carrying no other passengers, but a traffic police officer and two workers for the company Asia World, who were carrying out works on a road, were standing nearby and were also killed in the blast, the resident said.

The truck, described as Chinese-made, was traveling from the direction of the larger town of Lashio and toward the Chinese border, the resident said.

“The blast happened at about 3:30 pm, and the driver’s body was blown all over the place,” the resident said. “The police still can’t find who the truck belonged to.”

The resident said the bridge on which the blast took place appeared to be slightly damaged.

An official at the police station in Kunlong, contacted by The Irrawaddy late Tuesday, confirmed that a truck had exploded, but would not give his name or corroborate any details of the incident.

According to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP), quoting an official at national police headquarters, only three people were killed and two were injured from the blast.

AFP also quoted local Union Solidarity and Development Party lawmaker Haw Shauk Chan—who put the death toll from the bomb at four—describing the explosive device as a “time bomb attached to a mine.”

The frontier areas of Shan State are home to numerous ethnic armed groups and are infamous for illegal opium and methamphetamine production. The Shan State Army-North, which is stationed in the area near Kunlong, has signed a ceasefire agreement with the government, but sporadic fighting still breaks out and the group has in recent months complained of government army troops being deployed near rebel positions.

The blast comes as Burma is in the spotlight internationally, hosting the ongoing Southeast Asian Games and preparing for its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

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.