A man arrested in the Myanmar hotel bombing that injured a US woman had been under surveillance for his alleged involvement in the planting of a second device found at a restaurant the next afternoon, police said.
Authorities moved in on Saw Myint Lwin, 26, after matching his photograph with images captured on Traders Hotel closed circuit television (CCTV) camera, according to a statement issued by Mon State Police on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old rode his motorcycle through a barricade set up to apprehend him in Belin Township, it said, but police caught up with him following a chase. It was not immediately clear if charges had been filed.
The explosion at Traders Hotel, one of Myanmar’s ritziest, occurred in the heart of Yangon.
It was the most high-profile in a series of bombings that the government alleges is an attempt to tarnish the image of the budding democracy as it emerges from decades of oppressive military rule.
Officials said the attacks, which reportedly left two dead and several others wounded, appear to be organized, with a restaurant, two bus stops, Buddhist temples and a market all targeted. No one has claimed responsibility.
The homemade time bomb that went off just before midnight on Monday at the Traders Hotel was hidden in the bathroom in a US family’s room on the ninth floor. There was no indication that they had been specifically targeted.
On Tuesday afternoon, authorities safely detonated a bomb found at Western Park restaurant in Yangon.
Saw Myint Lwin was suspected of playing a role in that foiled plot, the Mon State Police statement said, without elaborating.
The government speculated the recent bombings were being organized by individuals or groups who want to smear the country’s image as it prepares to assume the ASEAN leadership next year.
It is also hosting the Southeast Asian Games — a showcase sporting event — later this year, said Ko Ko Hlaing, a political adviser to Burmese President Thein Sein.
US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday in Washington that she could not comment on any motive behind the bombings. She said the US embassy in Myanmar released a security message to alert US citizens who reside in or are traveling to the country over the recent bombings.
“While there is no indication at this time that any of these IEDs [improvised explosive devices] were specifically directed toward US citizens, the embassy asks that all US citizens exercise an appropriate level of caution,” she said.
Meanwhile, other Western governments have warned travelers to exercise extreme caution in Myanmar after a series of minor bomb blasts.
Britain, France and Australia all urged their nationals to be vigilant, although they stopped short of advising against travel to the former junta-ruled country.