Yangon: At least two people were killed
in a bomb blast today near a town market in an
insurgency-plagued region in southeastern Myanmar, an official
in the military-ruled country said.
The evening explosion occurred in the town of
Myawaddy near the border with Thailand, an area where ethnic
Karen fighters are battling the government.
The blast came as the secretive country prepares
for elections planned for this year that critics have
dismissed as a sham due to the effective barring of opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is a serving prisoner.
Myanmar has been hit by several bomb blasts in
recent years, which the junta has blamed on armed exile groups
or ethnic rebels.
Three bombs rocked a park in the main city Yangon
in April as thousands of revellers celebrated an annual water
festival, leaving 10 people dead and dozens wounded.
Police blamed that attack on the Vigorous Burmese
Student Warriors, a name used in the past by a militant exile
group opposed to the ruling junta.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962, partly
justifying its grip on power by the need to fend off ethnic
rebellions that have plagued remote border areas for decades.
Armed minorities in Karen and Shan states continue
to fight the government along the country`s eastern border
alleging they are subject to neglect and mistreatment.
The regime recently stepped up its decades-long
campaign against the rebels in an apparent attempt to crush
them before the polls, expected some time later this year.
Suu Kyi`s National League for Democracy won the
last polls in 1990 by a landslide but the military never
allowed the party to take power.
Suu Kyi has spent much of the past 20 years in jail
or under house arrest and is barred from standing in the next
polls because she is a serving prisoner.