Tightened Security in Pyin Oo Lwin after Explosion

By Nyein Nyein 1 July 2013

Security has been tightened in the wake of an explosion in Pyin Oo Lwin that injured three people on Sunday afternoon in the Mandalay Division garrison town.

Two men from the Defense Services Technological Academy (DSTA) and a woman from a nearby teashop were injured in the blast, which reportedly came from a motorcycle parked near the City Sports Stadium along the Mandalay-Lashio road.

Locals said the explosion was loud and did minor damage to houses nearby. The state-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin said on Monday that it was “a heavy and loud explosion,” and that “the victims were 100 feet away from the explosion.”

Sergeant Hla Myo Htike and DSTA cadet Shine Myint Maung were admitted to the military hospital in Pyin Oo Lwin, a hill town also known as Maymyo that is home to four military institutes. The teashop employee Ma Nge was admitted to the local public hospital.

A second lieutenant of the Pyin Oo Lwin police told The Irrawaddy on Monday that “we have tightened the security day and night.” He said added that “the authorities are still investigating the incident,” but provided no further details.

It was not clear whether the incident was the result of a planted bomb or accidental explosion, but a Pyin Oo Lwin resident who asked for anonymity told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the circumstances raised suspicions.

“The motorbike was left at that place and it exploded when the sergeant and the DSTA cadet were near that motorbike,” the resident said.

He added that authorities had set up checkpoints in and out of the city since Sunday’s incident. Recently, multiple undetonated bombs were found in the city, according to the resident.

“It was a big explosion. The sound was very loud. We went there as soon as we heard the sound of the explosion,” said Ko Htoo, another resident. “A bomb squad from BE [the Engineers’ Battalion] said it was a time bomb after they checked the debris stuck to nearby trees.”

Another police official, who also asked to remain anonymous, acknowledged that the explosion may have been a targeted attack on the local military establishment.

“The blast could have targeted the military because the place is usually crowded with cadets from the Defense Services Technological Academy,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“We do not know why they would do such an explosion, but we will hunt them down as soon as possible,” he added.

When contacted by The Irrawaddy, provincial police officials declined to provide details on the ongoing investigation, but said that for security reasons, motorcycles and other vehicles would be inspected if considered suspect. Authorities would also check the visitor registrations of every Pyin Oo Lwin household.