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One killed in latest blast to rock Myanmar

Three explosions in Chinese border town

<p>Soldiers guard downtown Yangon following a bomb blast at Trader's Hotel on Sunday (AFP photo/Ye Aung Thu)</p>

Soldiers guard downtown Yangon following a bomb blast at Trader's Hotel on Sunday (AFP photo/Ye Aung Thu)

  • John Zaw, Mandalay
  • Myanmar
  • October 17, 2013
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Three bomb attacks on Myanmar’s border with China left one dead and at least six injured on Wednesday and Thursday.

A bomb exploded on Wednesday night and another two on Thursday in Namkham in Shan State, right on the border with China’s Yunnan Province and Myanmar’s restive Kachin state. Thursday’s bomb blast killed a state worker, according to reports.

“Local police and authorities are still investigating and don’t have specifics about the bomb devices [yet],” said Namkham military intelligence official Win Zaw Htay. “As soon as the bomb blasts occurred high security was imposed. Local police are chasing the suspects.”

Sai Lu, a Namkham resident, said he heard last night's bombing which prompted scared residents to stay indoors.

“The situation is calm today despite the three bomb blasts and people are moving about as normal,” he said.

The blasts are the latest in a series of attacks across Myanmar over the past five days leaving two dead and at least seven people injured as the country’s reformist government looks to contain simmering ethnic and religious tensions.

On Sunday night, a 43-year-old American woman was flown to hospital in Bangkok after she was injured in a bomb blast at Trader’s Hotel in downtown Yangon.

The US and UK embassies in Yangon on Thursday denounced the recent bombings as acts of terror, although both countries stopped short of issuing a travel warning for Myanmar.

“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners,” said the British Foreign Office. “The motivation for the attacks is at present unclear.”

On Tuesday, police arrested a 26-year-old man from Kayin State in Western Myanmar, the scene of more than 50 years of civil war until recent peace talks between the government and Karen National Union (KNU) rebels.

Considered a key suspect, Myint Lwin had previously stayed in the Trader’s Hotel room where Sunday's bomb blast took place, according to police, and is also connected to an unexploded device in a Yangon restaurant.

An unnamed KNU source told AFP on Wednesday that he was part of the group and may have been dissatisfied with recent peace agreements with the government.

Two Malaysian passport-holders questioned by police in connection with an unexploded device in Mandalay were freed late on Wednesday after they were found not to have any links to recent attacks, police said. Other suspects remain in police custody in Yangon and Mandalay.

“[The] bombings and unexploded bomb devices across the country are connected and were conducted by a group, according to the testimonies of people arrested,” said Mandalay Division Deputy Police Chief Aung Shwe.

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