Blasts in Myanmar’s biggest city kill 2, destroy army truck

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For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Bangkok: At least two explosions on Friday rocked a neighbourhood in Myanmar’s biggest city, killing two people, destroying a military truck and damaging a taxi in what appeared to be a serious escalation of violence between the country’s military rulers and their pro-democracy opponents.

Myanmar media reported that the blasts in Yangon’s working-class Tarmwe neighbourhood were caused by bombs, though there was no official confirmation. The neighborhood has been a stronghold of resistance to the military government that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February.

A nonviolent civil disobedience movement arose to challenge military rule, but the junta’s attempt to repress it with deadly force fueled rather than quelled resistance, and there is now an incipient nationwide insurrection.

People Media, an online news service, reported that a deputy police chief was killed and four soldiers and two policemen wounded when a bomb was hurled at the military truck. The vehicle had been parked outside an office of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which served as the main opposition group in Parliament during the previous government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The USDP was established to serve as a political proxy for the military, with which it is closely identified. Photos posted online showed the truck mostly gutted by a blaze that was put out by fire trucks.

A taxi not far away, near Tarmwe Market, exploded shortly after the truck blast, killing one person and injuring another, People Media said. Photos showed a bloodied body lying behind the vehicle, which had its windows and roof blown out and dented doors.

Security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and bystanders since February. In response, some militant activists began employing violent forms of resistance, even though they are heavily outgunned and outnumbered.

In the past two months there have been almost daily small bombings and arson attacks in major cities, as well as the killings of local administrators and police loyal to the junta. Generally no one has claimed responsibility for these attacks, though they are widely attributed to opponents of military rule.

Online reaction to Friday’s explosions, mostly among the junta’s opponents, was mixed. Many applauded the actions, but some also wondered if they were staged by the military to discredit the “people’s defense forces,” organized to repel attacks by the army and police. The government and its opponents each describe the other side as “terrorists.”