Bombs attacks rise in Yangon as Rohingya Violence Continues

Yangon City Hall

Could Yangon be a target for pro-and anti-Muslim militants? After the explosion on November 17 of two bombs at a market, of three handmade bombs in a supermarket in southern Yangon on November 20 and at an immigration office in Yangon on November 24, another incident occurred on Fruday.

Media reports in Myanmar explained that a crude bomb has exploded at a government office in Yangon. Myanmar News Agency says the blast on Friday evening caused no injuries as it was a holiday. It says security forces also found another homemade bomb nearby and detonated it safely.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, and police did not first name suspects. However, later, AFP reported a policeman declaring that “”The three suspects have already been arrested with a bomb-making kit. They are Muslims and they admitted they made the other explosives.”

They come at a time of heightened tension after weeks of deadly violence in western Rakhine and clashes between the army and insurgents in northern Shan state. Dozens of people have also died in northern Rakhine after attacks on police border posts last month sparked a military crackdown. The government has blamed the raids on Islamist militants with a Pakistani Taliban-trained leader. Privately, diplomats have questioned this claim.

Police arrested the men on Friday in Yangon’s central Thingyangyun township after questioning a woman who had been at the site of other explosions. She was not taken into custody.

Reuters also reported on Saturday Indonesian police arrested a suspected Islamist militant and seized a large quantity of bomb-making material that he planned to use in attacks on government buildings and the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta next month, a police spokesman said.

The suspect was identified as Rio Priatna Wibawa, 23, who is believed to be a member of an Indonesian group that supports Islamic State.

Local media reported that the amount of explosives seized would have resulted in a blast twice as powerful as the bomb that killed 202 people in a Bali nightclub in 2002.

Anger has been mounting in the Muslim-majority nations in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, over a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, leading to demonstrations in several cities, including Jakarta.

(Source: Reuters, AFP, Myanmar News Agency)