Suspect arrested for bombings in Myanmar’s largest city

The state-run Myanmar News Agency reported Saturday that similar explosions occurred Thursday at an immigration office in Yangon, and on Nov. 17 at a supermarket.

By Author  |  Published: 26th Nov 2016  4:31 pm
Myanmar bomb
Journalists wait in front of an explosion site in Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 25, 2016.

Yangon: Authorities in Myanmar have arrested at least one person in connection with several small bombings in Yangon, the country’s biggest city.

The attacks, which have caused no casualties and only minor damage, took place as government troops are involved in operations in the country’s west and northeast.

The announcement of the arrest came Saturday on the Facebook page of President’s Office spokesman Zaw Htay just a day after at least one crude bomb made from the bottle of an energy drink exploded inside the building housing Yangon Region government offices. Another explosive device there was found unexploded.

Zaw Htay said the arrested suspect, identified as Khin Maung Shwe and also known as Ya Kautt, confessed to carrying out bombings, though it was unclear if he was connected to Friday’s blasts. The Facebook posting said police had found materials similar to those used in the bombings, including energy drink bottles.

The posting did not give a reason for the bombing or the political affiliation, if any, of the suspect. Local media reports said three had been detained, but this was not confirmed by officials.

There has been speculation that the blasts were meant as warnings from antagonists opposing government military operations in the western state of Rakhine or Shan State in the northeast, though no one has claimed responsibility for the actions or explicitly threatened to bring the fighting to Yangon.

Troops in Rakhine are conducting large-scale sweeps of Muslim communities there after attacks by unknown people on border posts killed nine policemen in October. Human rights groups say the army is targeting members of the Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority, who face severe discrimination from the country’s Buddhist majority.

Major intercommunal violence in 2012 killed scores of people and drove more than 100,000, almost all Muslims, from their homes into internal displacement camps.

In northern Shan State, ethnic minority guerrilla groups recently attacked government forces in what they said was retaliation for army attacks on their forces. For decades, Myanmar has been troubled by fighting, with various ethnic minority groups seeking greater autonomy.