Sat, Apr 17, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Myanmar urges vigilance after deadly park bombings

AFP , YANGON, MYANMAR

Myanmar state media urged revelers at an annual water festival to be vigilant yesterday after bomb blasts killed eight people at a park in the main city Yangon, according to a new toll.

People across the military-ruled nation should “remain ­vigilant against potential atrocities” and inform authorities if they see anything suspicious, the English-language New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

Officials had initially reported that nine people died in three explosions near Kandawgyi Lake in Myanmar’s commercial hub, but said yesterday they had miscounted the number of fatalities.

A further 170 people were wounded, state media said.

The blasts occurred as thousands of people were gathered for water-throwing festivities to mark the Buddhist New Year.

Hundreds of revelers returned to the same park yesterday on the final day of the Thingyan New Year festival, watched by dozens of police officers.

It was the worst bomb attack in Yangon since a series of blasts in May 2005 at two supermarkets and a convention center killed 23 people. The junta blamed those explosions on exile groups.

The latest blasts came as the country prepares for elections planned for this year that critics have dismissed as a sham because of the effective barring of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is a serving prisoner.

Myanmar has been hit by ­several bomb blasts in recent years, which the junta has blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic rebels.

The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962, partly justifying its grip on power by the need to fend off ethnic rebellions that have plagued remote border areas for decades.

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