One Killed in Shan State Explosions: Police

By Lawi Weng & Htet Naing Zaw 17 October 2013

RANGOON — One person was killed and six others reportedly wounded when two bombs exploded in northern Shan State on Thursday morning, in the latest of several blasts across Burma over the last week.

A police officer in Namkhan Township told The Irrawaddy that the bombs exploded near a pagoda in the center of the Shan State town between 7 and 8 am, and followed a blast on Wednesday night in which no one was injured.

“The latest information is one dead, one wounded,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Aie Taung Win, a resident of Namkhan, said six people were wounded in the dual bomb blasts.

A series of crude explosive devices have been discovered or detonated across five states and divisions in Burma since Friday. An incident in Pegu Division’s Taungoo Township on Friday killed two people and wounded one more.

The bombings garnered international attention when an American woman was injured by a bomb that went off on Monday night in her hotel room at the high-end Traders Hotel in downtown Rangoon.

Police say they have detained a handful of suspects in connection with the incidents.

One of those arrested, Saw Myint Lwin, is an ethnic Karen who formerly served as a member of the armed rebel Karen National Union (KNU) in Karen State’s Papun Township, according to Thein Lwin, a police chief from Rangoon Division. However, the police chief added that Saw Myint Lwin’s alleged involvement in the recent bombings was not related to his KNU connection.

“He used to be a member of the KNU. However, there is a [different] group that hired him to do this. We have already identified this group, but we continue to investigate in order to be more certain,” said the police chief.

Saw Myint Lwin was detained on Tuesday in Belin Township, Mon State, and is accused of bombing Traders Hotel and of involvement in the planting of a separate explosive device at a restaurant in Rangoon.

A senior general from the armed wing of the KNU, which signed a ceasefire with the government in January 2012, also insisted that the suspect’s alleged crimes should not be linked to the Karen rebel group.

“We are staying in the jungle. We do not know anything about these bombings,” Gen Saw Johnny, commander-in-chief of the Karen National Liberation Army (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.”

Thein Lwin said the government would hold a press conference soon to provide information on the group allegedly responsible for the bombing campaign.

Meanwhile, the US and Australian embassies have issued security alerts to nationals of the respective countries who are traveling inside Burma, and the US Embassy on Thursday issued a statement condemning the attacks.

“Acts of violence like those perpetrated and attempted over the past week have no place in civilized society, and we are confident in the people of this country to confront such acts of terror with strength, determination and a continued commitment to national peace, development, and reconciliation,” the embassy said.

Burmese authorities say their investigation into the bombings is ongoing.

“We do not know yet what intention they have for doing this. We are still investigating what motivations are behind this,” said a police chief from the Home Affairs Ministry in Rangoon.

Additional reporting by The Irrawaddy reporter Saw Yan Naing.