October 18, 2013

MYANMAR/BURMA: 'Home Made Bomb' Explodes At Luxury Hotel

The Telegraph UK
written by Fiona MacGregor, Rangoon and Colin Freeman
Tuesday October 15, 2013

One female American guest injured as explosion tears through hotel in Burma in latest in spate of bombings in the country in recent days.

An American tourist has been injured in a bomb explosion at a luxury hotel in Burma, the latest in a string of attacks apparently aimed at venues frequented by foreigners.

The woman, who was on holiday with her husband and two children, was hospitalised after a home-made time bomb attached to a clock went off in her ninth-floor guest room at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon. The five star hotel is popular with both Western businesspeople and tourists, and is also used by visiting United Nations officials.

“I heard a commotion and there was a woman bleeding at the bottom of the stairs in her husband’s arms,” said Gabriel Palluch, 28, a fellow American who was in the hotel at the time. “She was bleeding profusely from all parts of her body and her face looked vacant and blue. Her husband was calling out 'get me an ambulance’.”

The bomb attack, shortly before midnight on Monday, was part of a wave of attacks that began on Friday, when a blast killed two people in a guesthouse in the town of Taungoo, near Burma’s official capital, Naypyitaw.

On Tuesday there were two further explosions, one in the parking lot of the Shwe Pyitsone Hotel in Burma’s central Sagaing region and another at a local pagoda, police in Sagaing said.

Other bombs since then have targeted restaurants, a Buddhist temple, and bus stops. Several of them have been wired to hand grenades.

As of yet there has been no claims of responsibility for the blasts, which come in the middle of the former dictatorship’s transition to democracy. While some believe they could be part of an Islamist backlash against recent anti-Muslim violence in the majority Buddhist state, others said they could have been carried out by rogue elements in the security services opposed to reform. A third possibility is that it is the work of ethnic insurgents, who have mounted urban bombing campaigns in the past.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the veteran opposition who was freed from house arrest as part of Burma’s pro-democracy reforms, told parliament that the devices were intended “to create panic”.

“The people should be cautious not to fall into the trap,” she added.

Police have arrested four suspects in connection with the bomb attacks, including one identified as Saw Myint Lwin, 26. He was seen on closed-circuit television cameras at the Traders Hotel, police said.

The American tourist, who has not been named, is understood to have now been released from hospital.

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