Series of bomb explosions hit Myanmar's Rakhine state

Cheryl Sanders
February 25, 2018

A series of four bomb explosions occurred on Saturday in Sittwe, capital of Myanmar's western Rakhine state. "A police officer was injured but not seriously", said a senior officer on the condition of anonymity.

Three other unexploded bombs were also detected in the area.

The blasts took place around 4:00am (2130 GMT Friday), the officer said.

Tin Maung Swe, Rakhine's state secretary, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency that one explosion "was nearby my home", adding that the two other bombs targeted a school and a courthouse.

A local official from the state government confirmed the explosions.

Conflict-torn Rakhine state experienced a spike in violence a year ago when a rebel group of the Rohingya Muslim minority staged attacks on government posts which spurred a heavy Myanmar military response and saw over 600,000 Rohingyas flee across the border into Bangladesh. The other two bombs exploded near the high court and a land record office. "Police are trying to make sure about the suspects by analyzing the structure of the bombs", police spokesman Colonel Myo Thu Soe, told Reuters by phone. Myanmar authorities now face accusations of severe human rights abuses during the operation, which security forces dub "clearance operations" in response to attacks by Muslim insurgents. For several centuries they have lived predominantly in Rakhine - also known as Arakan.

Mr David Mathieson, an independent analyst based in Myanmar, said yesterday's Sittwe blasts were more likely tied to ethnic Rakhine tensions than the Rohingya crisis, whose epicentre is further north.

Last month, at least seven Rakhine Buddhists were killed and a dozen injured when local police fired at protesters in the ancient city of Mrauk-U.

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