Security Tightened as More Explosions Rattle Hpakant

By Lawi Weng 10 May 2016

RANGOON — Two bomb blasts at a police station in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township razed a pair of homes that were located on the compound on Monday night, according to local sources.

Shwe Thein, a resident of Hpakant and member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the two houses, in the Sai Taung quarter of Hpakant town, burned to the ground following the explosions, which he described as “very loud.”

“Families of police [personnel] were staying at those two longhouses,” said Shwe Thein, adding that no one from the families was wounded.

A police officer in the town of Hpakant who did not give his name confirmed that there had been a fire at the police station, but he did not provide a cause for the blaze.

Shwe Thein said police, working with Burma Army personnel, had tightened security in the town, where several explosions were reported over the weekend.

“Bomb blasts occurred at two places last night,” he said, adding that the other took place at Longkin village, near Hpakant town.

Elsewhere in Hpakant Township, fighting broke out on Saturday, when the Burma Army conquered two hilltop posts that had been held by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), according to the ethnic armed group.

It was not immediately clear whether there was a link between those hostilities and the recent spate of explosions.

According to local sources, members of the KIA set up a blockade on the main road into Hpakant on Monday, only allowing vehicles leaving the town to pass.

On a Facebook page generally regarded as representating the armed group, the KIA said its blockade was not intended to harm or threaten motorists, but was rather to keep travelers out of harm’s way amid the current instability.

In retaliation for the weekend attack on its hilltop posts, that same Facebook page said a roadside landmine planted by the KIA had killed and wounded government troops in two trucks traveling to reinforce Burma Army positions on Monday.