YANGON: Three bombs exploded early Saturday in the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a cauldron of ethnic tensions roiled by insurgencies and a military crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya, officials said.
The three blasts at separate locations around Sittwe included one at the home of a high ranking official, police told Agence France-Presse.
Besides the bloody campaign against the Rohingya, Rakhine has been struggling with a decade-long rebellion fought by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist insurgents but bombings in the state capital are rare.
“Three bombs exploded and three other unexploded bombs were found. A police officer was injured but not seriously,” a senior officer told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.
The blasts took place around 4 a.m. local time, the officer said.
One was detonated in the compound of the state government secretary’s home, while the two others exploded in front of an office in the city and on a road leading to a beach.
A local official from the state government confirmed the explosions. Photos of the sites showed shattered windows and scattered debris.
“Some streets are being blocked by police already because of the bomb blasts,” Zaw Zaw, a resident of Sittwe, told Agence France-Presse by phone.
In recent months, unrest in Rakhine has been concentrated in the state’s northern wedge, where a sweeping military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim community last August pushed nearly 700,000 refugees across the border to Bangladesh.
But the restive state also hosts a simmering insurgency waged by a Rakhine Buddhist rebel group called the Arakan Army, which clashes with Myanmar troops.
Unlike the Rohingya Muslims, the Rakhine are recognized by the government as an ethnic minority but are still marginalized in a country historically dominated by the Bamar (Burmese) majority.
Tensions between the community and local authorities shot through since after a police crackdown on an ethnic Rakhine mob left seven dead last month.
That violence in Mrauk U township prompted the Arakan Army’s political wing to warn of a “serious” retaliation for the deaths of the protesters.