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DVB: Karen rebels reject Rangoon bomb plot ‘allegation’


Karen rebels reject Rangoon bomb plot ‘allegation’ (click to view)

The Karen National Union (KNU) has rejected an AFP news report suggesting that the man detained in connection with the recent bombings in Rangoon is a member of the armed ethnic rebel group.

Tuesday's report, citing an unnamed KNU official, said the 26-year-old suspect, identified as Saw Myint Lwin, is a rebel member expressing "dissatisfaction" with its tentative ceasefire deal with the government.

Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, Thaw Thi Bwe, joint secretary of the KNU rejected the report, claiming it was "just an allegation" and that nobody within the group was dissatisfied with the peace deal.

"There is not a single member within our ranks who does not wish to see the peace for which both our leadership and members have been working together," said Thaw Thi Bwe.

Mahn Nyein Maung, Central Executive Committee member of the KNU said the bombings represented a malicious attempt to disturb the ethnic peace process, and pledged to investigate whether its members were involved.

"This was not a plan by our leadership – we will carry out investigations to find out whether our members were involved and take necessary actions if they were – we will not allow any harm to our peace process."

The KNU signed a tentative ceasefire deal with Naypyidaw in January 2012 after spending decades fighting for greater autonomy and ethnic rights. But violence has continued to flare in KNU-held territories and reports of friction within the group's ranks over the peace process have surfaced.

Burma has been struck by a series of coordinated bomb attacks since Friday, claiming two lives and injuring an American woman. The government arrested Saw Myint Lwin on Tuesday after reportedly identifying him using CCTV footage taken at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon shortly before one of its rooms was ripped apart by a home-made time-bomb on Monday.

The government is also looking for another man, identified as Saw Tun Tun, who has been linked to Friday's attack in Taungoo which killed two people. A number of other bombs have also been found across the country.

According to ucanews.com, another two suspects carrying Malaysian passports are being held in Mandalay on suspicion of planting an unexploded bomb in the city on Monday.

But no group has taken responsibility for the blasts, which have similarities with attacks that took place during military-rule in Burma. In the past, the government has been quick to blame ethnic rebels or exile groups, often taking the opportunity to arrest and jail dissident activists.

President Thein Sein, who took office in March 2011, has been credited for pushing democratic reforms in the former pariah state and inking ceasefire deals with most ethnic armed groups.

But clashes continue in Burma's volatile border regions, while a wave of Muslim-Buddhist riots has swept the country since last year, even reaching Mandalay and Rangoon.

A number of western governments, including the US, the UK, Australia and France, issued travel warnings to their citizens this week, in some cases advising against all but essential travel to parts of the country.