Bomb Blast Rocks Kachin Town of Bhamo

By Nyein Nyein 18 January 2013

A bomb blast on the outskirt of Bhamo Township in Kachin State on Thursday injured two people, a local leader said, adding that the explosion occurred near the town’s technological university.

“It happened around 4:20 pm on the Bhamo-Momauk road on Thursday and hurt two people,” said Zaw Thin, a local member of the National League for Democracy. “A driver was hurt in his left arm as he was about 20 feet away from the explosion, while an old man who was at his home was also injured,” he said.

Zaw Thin said the bomb went off near the fence of the Bhamo Technological University, about 3.5 kilometers away from the town center. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast.

Bhamo is located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in the south of Kachin State.

The state, located in northern Burma, has been the scene of fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese government since June 2011, when a17-year-old cease-fire broke down. Most of the fighting has been concentrated in the northern part of the state, where the KIA holds sway over the mountains along the Burma-China border.

Although gunfire has been heard about 7 kilometers east of Bhamo, the town has not been directly affected by the violence so far. Bhamo host over 4,000 Kachin villagers in nine camps who fled the violence in Kachin State from nearby areas such as Momauk, Mansi, Lajayang, Gaung Ja Yang and Nang Sam Yang.

In early January, there were explosions in Man Nyunt, 7 kilometers outside Bhamo and 180 kilometers away, while a bridge on the Mansi-Bhamo road was destroyed by a bomb blast, according to reports in state-controlled media.

The road running south from Bhamo to Mandalay—the town’s major road connection with the rest of Burma—has been closed since fighting began in Kachin State. The Irrawaddy River is now the most important remaining transport connection between Bhamo and the rest of the country.