MANDALAY—At least three bombs packed in attache cases were found Friday in Taunggyi, southern Shan State, where the annual fire balloon festival is currently being held.
A local politician told The Irrawaddy he saw bomb squad officers checking one case that was found in front of Taunggyi’s Central Market.
“Police cleared the area and the bomb squad defused it. Later, they took away another two attache cases after defusing them,” Ko Toe said.
Locals said they had heard reports that police had evacuated six other locations including Ocean shopping mall following bomb scares.
However, the duty officer at Taunggyi Police Station would only confirm the discovery of three bombs in front of the market. He said the other reports were just rumors and refused to provide further information.
Taunggyi is currently hosting its annual Fire Balloon Festival, a unique event that draws thousands of visitors to the town. Locals and visitors expressed concern that the festival would be canceled due to the bomb scares.
The area surrounding Taunggyi includes some of the main operating areas of the Pa-O and Shan ethnic armed groups.
However, local residents were doubtful that the ethnic armed groups were responsible for placing the bombs, as most of the visitors to the festival are ethnic people living in the region.
“We don’t believe the culprits are from the ethnic armed groups. [Whoever did it] may have been trying to affect the festival and the peace and stability of our town,” said U Than Win, a town elder and festival committee member.