RANGOON — Police in Mon State’s Thaton Township detained a man on Tuesday morning who was allegedly involved in the planting of a bomb at Traders Hotel in Rangoon that detonated late Monday night, injuring an American woman.
In a statement issued by the township police station on Tuesday, authorities said they arrested Saw Myint Lwin on a road in Belin Township at a barricade police had set up to apprehend the man, who was riding a motorbike.
“We found him and arrested him while we were following his tracks at guest houses in Thaton,” said the statement.
Police had been tracking Saw Myint Lwin on suspicions that the man also had a role in the planting of another explosive device discovered earlier on Monday at a restaurant in Rangoon. A bomb squad was able to defuse that homemade device. The suspect’s ID card was later discovered in a taxi, and CCTV footage from Traders Hotel was able to match his identity, according to the statement.
The statement said police in Thaton Township handed the suspect over to a special police unit from Rangoon tasked with investigating a series of explosions in Burma over the last few days.
“There were some police from Rangoon who came and waited for us to arrest him this morning. We cooperated with them in the arrest,” said Than Oo, a police inspector in Thaton Township, who added that the 26-year-old suspect failed to heed authorities’ road blockade and a chase ensued.
The Associated Press on Tuesday reported that three people were detained in connection with the bomb blast at Traders Hotel, though the news agency did not provide any names.
“We have not charged anyone yet, but we are interrogating three people regarding the blast at Traders Hotel,” Win Kyi, a police chief in Rangoon, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
The Burmese government has been quick to blame armed ethnic insurgent groups following similar bombings in the past, when various rebel groups have been at war with the central government. Since the nominally civilian administration of President Thein Sein took power in 2011, the government has embarked on an ambitious peace effort and has since reached ceasefire agreements with more than a dozen armed ethnic groups.
Min Aung, a police chief from the Home Affairs Ministry in Rangoon, told The Irrawaddy that the government’s improved relations with ethnic rebels made determining the bombings’ culprit “difficult.”
“It is difficult to point out who is doing it this time even though we have pointed to the ethnic armed groups in the past,” he said.
Since Friday, a series of bombs have exploded across Burma. The explosion at Traders was the third in Rangoon since Sunday, when one bomb went off at a bus stop in Insein Township and another, attached to the underside of a truck, exploded in Thaketa Township. Another device, which was reportedly wired with C-4, was discovered near the scene of the bus stop explosion but did not detonate.
A bomb first went off at a guest house in Pegu Division on Friday, killing two people and injuring one other. Prior to Friday’s fatal explosion, army officials in Pegu Division’s Pyu Township found and defused an explosive device in front of the local post office, according to The Voice Daily, a Burmese-language newspaper.
Two more undetonated explosive devices were found at restaurants in Rangoon and Mandalay on Monday.
Police in Sagaing Division confirmed to The Irrawaddy that two more explosions were reported in Burma’s northwest in the early hours of Tuesday, though no one was injured. Those bombs were set off at the Shwe Pyint Sone hotel and near the Son Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda, though no one was harmed in either incident, Sagaing police said.
Parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, spoke to reporters about the incidents following a legislative session on Tuesday.
“The government needs to investigate as soon as possible who is doing this,” Suu Kyi said, urging the public to remain calm.
The bombings come as Burma prepares to host the 2013 Southeast Asia Games in early December and next year will take over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Police in Burma have warned the public to be on the lookout for suspicious packages in public places.