Shwedagon Pagoda on Bombing Suspect’s Target List: KNU

By May Kha 21 October 2013

RANGOON — The man detained for his alleged involvement in several recent bomb blasts across Burma planned to target Rangoon’s famed Shwedagon Pagoda on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, according to a member of the Karen National Union (KNU) central committee.

During a press conference held at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) on Sunday, Mahn Nyein Maung reiterated what law enforcement authorities alleged late last week: that the motivation for the blasts that rocked Burma’s two biggest cities and several other locations was to deter foreign investment in the country.

“When we checked with the accused, we found out that he also had planned to target Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred site for Buddhists, on an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims, Eid al-Adha,” said the KNU central committee member. “It is obvious that such an attempt would have been politically sensitive.”

He also told journalists that Saw Myint Lwin, the suspect under investigation whose religious affiliation remains unknown, had admitted to involvement in the explosions.

“He acted on his own and there was no KNU involvement in the blasts,” Mahn Nyein Maung said.

He added that the suspect was trying to secure an economic foothold amid talks of a nationwide ceasefire between the central government and Burma’s many ethnic armed groups, a prospect that could bring an unprecedented level of political stability—and interest from foreign investors in resource-rich Karen State.

“My general analysis is that he endeavored to win a monopoly over his economic rivals through various means,” said the KNU central committee member. “The KNU has been in a revolution constantly and is only now studying to conduct business. We don’t understand economic matters at all.”

Saw Shwe Maung, another KNU central committee member at the press conference, said the full details of what motivated the bombing campaign remained unclear because police are still searching for individuals suspected of involvement in the crimes.

Since Oct. 11, at least eight explosive devices have been detonated in four different states and divisions in Burma. Three people have been killed and several others injured, including an American tourist who was staying at Rangoon’s Traders Hotel when a bomb went off in the bathroom of her ninth floor room. A handful of undetonated explosive devices have also been discovered.

Police from Rangoon Division on Friday said eight suspects had been detained for suspected involvement in the bombings.