RANGOON — Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, was rocked by three bomb blasts on Saturday evening, one of which injured two policemen, and authorities found three more explosive devices that were defused on time, local sources said.
The bombs were planted near Burma Army bases in the town, with the first explosion occurring near a bus-stop close to the gates of the Eastern Command, said Tin Maung Toe, Taunggyi District chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The roof of the bus-stop was blown off by the blast.
Minutes later, another bomb exploded near the army’s No. 212 Signals Battalion and the third went off as two traffic policemen from a nearby traffic police office went to the site of second bomb blast, he said, adding that the officers sustained minor injuries.
The three more bombs were found in front of Eastern Command and defused.
“Police said that those bombs are not hand-made ones, but time-bombs made with relatively advanced technology,” said Tin Maung Toe.
Taunggyi Township police declined to comment on the blasts when contacted by The Irrawaddy on Monday.
Taunggyi Township Administrator Zaw Myint Thein said security had been tightened in the town, with the police combing the area for clues about the attackers. “Authorities concerned have been working in cooperation with members of public to make sure there are no new bomb blasts,” he said.
“Since [Sunday], houses are being checked by authorities to see if there are overnight guests [from other places],” Tin Maung Toe, of the NLD, said. “Locals are concerned and scared as the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival is drawing near,” he added.
Taunggyi resident Nay Myo also confirmed that police were going through the town’s neighborhoods to check whether guests had been staying over in recent days.
“Locals are concerned about security during the Tazaungdaing festival,” he said, referring to the annual Buddhist holiday that is celebrated in Taunggyi with a spectacular, week-long balloon competition that starts on Nov 1 and draws tens of thousands of visitors.
Nay Myo said he feared that the bomb blasts are related to a recent increase in fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic rebels groups in Shan State.
The clashes involving various rebel groups, including Palaung and Shan State Army-North fighters, have been on the rise in recent weeks and come at a time when Burma’s nationwide ceasefire talks appear to have hit a deadlock.
Unexplained, relatively small bomb blasts have occurred in towns and cities across Burma in the past year. The incidents have often been linked by police to the country’s ethnic armed groups, although details on the incidents are scarce.
In October last year, a spate of mysterious small explosive devices—from time-detonated mines to hand grenades—exploded or were discovered around the country. Three people were killed and at least 10 were wounded by bomb blasts in five states and divisions in just a matter of weeks.