Myanmar bombing kills 11 injures 170 – ethnic rebel or Islamic Jihadists from Southern Thailand?
Priya Sen
May 8, 2005

Three bomb explosions blamed on ethnic rebels killed at least 11 people and wounded 162 others in Myanmar. But as details of the blast comes in, it is becoming more clear that may have been a work of Islamic Jihadists from Southern Thailand or a collaboration between them and the ethnic rebels.

The blasts occurred over a 10-minute period Saturday at the exhibition center in western Yangon, and then at two City Mart supermarkets in the northern and northwestern sections of the city.

State television blamed the bombings on several ethnic rebel groups, including the Karen National Union and the Shan State Army, as well as the self-proclaimed government-in-exile. It called the insurgents ‘‘terrorists’’ who were acting ‘‘with the objective of disrupting stability and tranquility.’’

A spokesman for the KNU, Myanmar’s largest ethnic rebel group declined to state that it their act.

Television footage showed extensive damage at the bombing sites, including smashed storefront windows and blood-splattered floors, while an official warned the public to remain alert in case of further unrest.

Soldiers and police sealed off all three sites Sunday as workers began removing broken glass and covering window openings with plywood.

‘‘It is not safe to go to crowded places any more. I’ll tell my children not to go to cinema or visit markets and crowded places. It’s not safe any more,’’ said a 45-year-old woman visiting Yangon’s Shwedagon pagoda.

Thailand’s state news agency on Sunday put the death toll at 20, citing Suriya Lapwisuthisin, the Thai deputy commerce minister. The number couldn’t be immediately confirmed.

Three people, including a Buddhist monk, were killed at the convention center. The victims were from Myanmar, but some Thais were hurt when people stampeded to get out of the hall following the blasts, witnesses said.

On Sunday, a Thai C-130 military transport evacuated some 122 Thai citizens who had attended the trade show at the behest of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the state-run Thai News Agency quoted Suriya as saying.

Residents said more than a dozen people were wounded at the City Mart supermarket in northwestern Yangon, and that the victims were taken to Yangon General Hospital — the main hospital in the city of 5 million people.

‘‘I heard a loud explosion and saw several sales girls in their gray and light yellow uniforms rushing out of the City Mart with blood streaming down from their faces,’’ said Hla Hla, a 32-year-old resident who arrived in the area minutes after the blast.

. An explosion at another City Mart store in northern Yangon wounded several people and caused similar damage, another witness said.

Authorties ordered markets across the capital to close for a second day Sunday because of security concerns following the explosions.

The explosions came less than two weeks after a bombing at a bustling market in the northern city of Mandalay killed two women and wounded 15 other people. The junta blamed that attack — the most deadly bombing in recent years — on unidentified rebels.

Last month, state media reported several rebel attacks, including an ambush by ethnic Karen rebels on a convoy of trucks and buses in southern Myanmar that left eight people dead, and the bombing of a northeastern utility tower by ethnic Karenni.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military for more than four decades. The current regime took power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising. The junta keeps tight control over the population and anti-government violence is rare, often bringing quick and severe punishment.


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