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Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 14:10 UK

Blasts 'kill nine' in Burmese city of Rangoon

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The BBC's Rachel Harvey: "It does seem to have been very deliberately targeted"

Three explosions in Burma's former capital city, Rangoon, have killed at least nine people, reports say.

The blasts happened in a park by Kandawgyi Lake as residents marked the New Year water festival.

Reports said scores of people had been injured and one hospital official said the death toll was expected to rise.

Burmese state TV said the blasts had been caused by bombs. Burma's generals usually blame attacks on dissidents or ethnic groups fighting for autonomy.

Girl in truck near site of explosion
Many revellers were left in shock after the explosions

State TV at first confirmed that six people - and later eight - had been killed, but multiple reports quoting hospital sources and officials put the death toll at nine.

There were no claims of responsibility but state TV blamed the attacks on "terrorists", without naming any group.

Bomb blasts occur sporadically in and around Rangoon, which is the military-ruled nation's commercial hub.

But co-ordinated attacks which cause a large number of casualties are very rare.

'Drenched in blood'

Reports said the explosions happened at about 1500 local time (0830 GMT) near pavilions erected for the celebrations.

Witnesses said the emergency ward of Rangoon hospital was closed to outsiders after at least 30 injured people were rushed there, AP news agency reported.

One described a scene of chaos and commotion, with injured people arriving drenched in blood and people crying and moaning.

State TV said 75 people had been wounded.

The blasts come as Burma prepares to hold its first elections in two decades.

Imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, has already said it will not take part because of election laws which it says are unjust.

Burma's rulers announced in 2005 that Rangoon was to be replaced as the country's capital by Nay Pyi Taw.



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