Police Detain 2 Suspects for Mandalay Bomb Blast

By Zarni Mann 26 July 2013

MANDALAY — Mandalay police said on Friday that they have detained two suspects in relation with a bomb blast that occurred on Sunday near a building where ultra-nationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu was giving a sermon.

“After studying CCTV camera footage, which was installed at the place near the area of the blast, we found that these two men were acting suspiciously so we detained them at their homes,” said Soe Nyein, superintendent at Mandalay Division Police office.

“We are sorry but we cannot provide further details about the detainees because they are still suspects,” he added.

The blast occurred on a street in central Mandalay on Sunday night near the entrance of a building where well-known nationalist monk U Wirathu was giving a speech to hundreds of people.

Five women and a young Buddhist monk sustained minor injuries from pieces of iron, nails and wires that were placed inside the explosive device, police have said. Officers believe the perpetrators intended to throw the bomb into the venue, but it rolled under a car before detonating, limiting the blast’s impact.

There have also been other reports of how the blast occurred, however. Some eye witnesses claimed that the device was thrown from above, while others said that it had been planted inside or beneath the car.

U Wirathu leads the nationwide 969 campaign, which calls on Buddhists in Burma to shun the country’s Muslim minority. The sermons of the Mandalay-based monk have been labeled hate speech and he is accused of fanning anti-Muslim sentiments at a time of growing tensions between Burma’s Buddhists majority and its Islamic communities.

U Wirathu has been quick to claim that he was the target of the bomb blast, which he said was carried out by “Islamic extremist”. Last month, the monk’s face appeared on the cover of Time Magazine Asia with the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror.” At the time, he claimed that “Islamic extremists” had arranged the magazine cover “because they want my downfall.”

Superintendent Soe Nyein said on Friday that police were still investigation the identity of those responsible for the blast, adding “It’s too early to say ifs the culprits are Islamic extremists or others.”