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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May 2005, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Bomb blasts rock Burmese capital
Police cordon around blast scene
The government blamed the attacks on insurgents
Three bomb explosions have hit busy shopping areas in the Burmese capital Rangoon, killing at least 11 people.

The near-simultaneous blasts struck at about 1500 local time (0800 GMT) at a centre hosting a Thai trade fair and two supermarkets.

More than 150 people were injured in the blasts, which the military government is blaming on ethnic rebels.

Security in Rangoon had been stepped up since a bomb blast at a market in the second city of Mandalay 10 days ago.

Two women died and 13 people were hurt in that attack.

At the time, the Burmese military government blamed an unnamed group of insurgent destructive elements who, it said, wanted to disturb the stability of the country.

State radio and officials in two Yangon hospitals confirmed 11 people dead in Saturday's Rangoon attacks. The radio said 163 people were injured, while Yangon General Hospital reported more than 200 hurt.

The authorities blamed the Karen National Union, the Shan State Army-South, and the Karenni National Progressive Party, as well as a government in exile known as the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

They said "terrorists" who were acting "with the objective of disrupting stability and tranquillity".

The KNU and the SSA-South quickly denied responsibility.

Thai evacuation

Several people with blood on their faces were seen leaving one City Mart supermarket in north-western Rangoon, a witness told the Associated Press news agency.

The exterior of the store was severely damaged, the agency said.

The other blast hit another City Mart store in northern Rangoon, reportedly causing similar damage.

The third explosion was outside a convention centre where a Thai trade fair was being held.

Sources in the city told the BBC the trade centre was crowded with people attending the last day of the fair.

Some reports say the bomb there exploded as people watched a fashion parade.

The police arrived soon after to evacuate the building.

According to the Thai authorities, no Thai nationals were hurt in the blast.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has ordered a C-130 cargo plane to fly to Yangon on Sunday and bring home the 200-plus Thais who were participating in the trade fair.

He said he believed the attack was not designed to target Thai interests, and was an internal Burmese matter. The Burmese opposition National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has condemned the bombings.

Country profile: Burma
01 Apr 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Burma
17 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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