According to Burmese officials, three bombs exploded in a park in Rangoon its principal city today Thursday, as people celebrated an annual water festival, which is also being celebrated by its neighbour, Thailand. The explosions killed more than nine people and there were more than 60 wounded. The bombs exploded near Kandawgyi Lake, where crowds had gathered, to celebrate the Buddhist new year.
Nine people were killed according to official sources, five men and four women, with 62 people injured. A fourth bomb was defused as the explosions came, while the country prepares for elections, carefully planned by the military to take place later this year. Dissidents have dismissed the election as a sham similar to Thailand, effectively barring opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, because she has been in prison.
The area, which was cordoned off by police, with witnesses saying people fled and ambulances carried away casualties. Burma known in South-east Asia as Myanmar, has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in recent years, with the junta blaming attacks on armed exile groups and tribal rebels.
The military has ruled Burma for the last 48 years, justifying its power, by claiming they are needed to deal with ethnic rebellions, similar to the former Yugoslavia. The regime has been relentless for decades, with brutal campaigns against dissident groups in attempts to crush them.
Democracy activist and icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 14 of the last 20 years. Human rights group Amnesty International, called on the governing generals in February, to end repression of ethnic minority groups ahead of the vote, accusing the regime of jailing, torturing and killing minority activists in order to crush any form of dissent.
In 2005, 11 people were killed and 162 injured when three bombs exploded at a convention centre and in supermarkets. Those attacks were blamed onthe Karen National Union, and Burma's government in exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.
Witnesses today said they heard three loud explosions at pavilions along the U Htaungbo Road, which runs beside Kandawgyi Lake. Most pavilions along the road are run by business interests with closeties to the junta.
Burma or Myanmar is home to several ethnic groups, some of whom have been waging, decades long armed insurrection along the country's eastern border with Thailand.The military said last August, that they prevented exiled pro-democracy groups from bombing Rangoon, during a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon the previous month. He had been in Burma to attempt the release of Suu Kyi before the election.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) like Thaksin's party in neighbouring Thailand, won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the military junta never allowed her to take office. The dissident Nobel peace prize winner has been under house arrest almost constantly ever since. Democracy in South Asia, South-east Asia has constantly been interrupted by military coups, sometimes aided by foreign interference. The resulting abject poverty from corruption, causes the death of millions due to neglect, diet and lack of medical care. Alongside the brutal poverty there are pockets of immense wealth and privilege.