Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Myanmar tightens security, attributes blasts to terrorists

AP , Yangon, Myanmar

Myanmar's ruling junta has indicated that anti-government "terrorists" were responsible for two bomb blasts in the capital in the past week.

According to a state media report late Saturday, an explosive device went off in a hotel in downtown Yangon earlier the same day, damaging a bathroom, and a bus was damaged in an explosion Thursday at a bus depot in the capital. Neither blast caused any injuries, the report added.

Following a tip-off from "a dutiful citizen," police disarmed a time bomb on another bus in the capital on Wednesday.

Anti-government violence is rare in Myanmar, where the military regime keeps tight control over the citizenry and punishment for dissent is swift and often heavy.

In the report, the government said three exiled dissident groups, the National Council of the Union of Burma, the Free Trade Union of Burma and the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, "have been recruiting terrorists, giving explosives training and sending demolitionists into the country enticing them with cash rewards to carry out explosions."

The report did not directly blame the groups and no one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The public must help expose the "terrorists who are trying to cause panic and disrupt stability," the report said.

The National Council of the Union of Burma is a coalition of exiled political and ethnic minority groups opposed to the junta.

The government often accuses the Free Trade Union of Burma of planning terrorist acts, but the group mostly engages in propaganda and lobbying campaigns.

The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors is a small, shadowy group that advocates armed action against the junta and was involved in two hostage-taking incidents in neighboring Thailand several years ago.

The news report also said that police had arrested Win Aung, 32, a member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front on Feb. 5 in southeastern Myanmar. It linked him with terrorist plans, but gave no details.

Security in Yangon has been tight since early this month ahead of Armed Forces Day, celebrated annually on March 27 with a military parade.

Residents have been reminded in nightly messages on public address systems that they must report all overnight guests to the authorities or face imprisonment.

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