Triple bomb attack kills eight at Burma festival

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The Independent Online

Three bombs exploded at a water festival in the former Burmese capital Rangoon yesterday, killing eight people and wounding 94, state television said, blaming "destructive elements" for the attacks.

The junta has in the past blamed bombings on anti-government dissident groups and ethnic minority rebels seeking autonomy in Burma, which has been under military rule since 1962.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility. State television said five men and three women were killed. Hospital sources had put the toll at nine.

Witnesses said they heard three loud explosions at a pavilion alongside Kandawgyi Lake. Revellers in Burma, as well as neighbouring Thailand and Laos, celebrate New Year by dousing friends and strangers with scented water and white powder. Most of the pavilions on U Htaungbo Road, along the scenic lakeside, are run by companies close to the authorities.

In May 2005, three bombs exploded at a convention centre and supermarkets, killing 23 people and wounding more than 160. There have been a few sporadic bombings since.

At the time, the authorities blamed ethnic rebel groups, including the Karen National Union, the Shan State Army – South, and the Karenni National Progressive Party, as well as a government in exile known as the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, which opposes the junta's rule.

In 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a general election but was not allowed to take power by the military, which continues to maintain a tight grip on the country.

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