Second Bomb Found in Thai-Burma Border Town

By Lawi Weng & Kyaw Kha 16 September 2014

RANGOON — Two bombs in two days have been discovered in eastern Burma’s Myawaddy Township, with the second explosive device uncovered on Tuesday morning in the busy trading hub on the Thai-Burma border.

Maung San, a police officer in Myawaddy, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that township authorities had bolstered security following the discovery of the two bombs.

“We have deployed more security forces. We also have plainclothes security forces deployed in the town,” Maung San said. “They are on duty all day and night to find the perpetrators. We have opened a case at the court already, but we have not been able to arrest any perpetrators yet.”

“All people were scare of it when they found the bomb,” said a lawyer who works near the courthouse where the bomb was discovered. “They put the bomb in a small cart and it was in a public place. Obviously, they wanted to threaten the people by doing it.”

A reporter from The Irrawaddy based in Myawaddy said that second bomb was found at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Many people were panicked when they found it. But the situation is now stable, and all border trade continues to cross as normal,” he said by phone.

He said the first bomb was discovered on Monday near the main Friendship Bridge linking Thailand and Burma, and was defused by the Burmese Army.

The bomb scares come amid increasing border tension between an ethnic Karen armed group and Thai border authorities, according to sources on the border. However, no one from any of the armed groups based in the town has claimed responsibility for the explosive devices.

The Karen National Union (KNU), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and a splinter group of the KNU—the KNU/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC)—all have a presence in Myawaddy.

The KNU/KNLA-PC has accused Thai border authorities of mistreating and extorting Burmese migrant workers, citing the daily bribes that migrants crossing the border to work in Mae Sot are forced to pay as an example.

The group has asked Thailand to respect the rights of migrants, most of whom are ethnic Burman and Karen. Last week, the KNU/KNLA-PC temporarily blocked 30 trucks that were attempting to transport Thai goods across the border in a show of force meant to draw the attention of Thai authorities to the issue.

The group has called on both the Burmese and Thai governments to meet with them to address migrant workers’ mistreatment, but so far those calls have been met with silence.

The Karen rebels have threatened to stage another blockade if they are not granted the requested tripartite meeting.

“They [Thai authorities] don’t respect our country and our citizens and therefore we need not respect them. We are humans and so are they. Our citizens are much degraded in Thailand and our government officials are just standing by and watching them suffer,” said Col. Tiger of the KNU/KNLA-PC.