Visitors among at least eight killed in explosions at notorious Insein jail in Myanmar

Multiple gunshots fired in response to blasts, witness says

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 19 October 2022 13:14 BST
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At least eight people, including visitors, were killed and 13 others sustained injuries in a bombing at Myanmar’s biggest prison which is notorious for detaining political prisoners.

Three officials and five visitors – including a 10-year-old girl – who were delivering parcels to the prisoners died at Yangon’s colonial-era Insein prison after two bombs exploded and gunfire was heard at about 9.40am local time.

All the visitors were reportedly women and kin of the prisoners.

The explosions took place inside and outside the parcel reception office near the prison’s main iron gate.

Officials said another bomb, which remained undetonated, was later found in one of the parcels. No group has claimed responsibility for the explosions so far.

The injured, including a nine-year-old boy and five prison personnel, were rushed to the Insein township hospital for treatment.

At least 10 gunshots were fired after the two explosions, a resident who lives near the prison told the Associated Press.

Images shared by the military showed the aftermath of the blasts, with items scattered across a room and the floor of the building covered in blood.

A parcel-reception location at the entrance of the Insein prison sits damaged after an explosion (Military True News Information Team via AP)

According to a witness, the soldiers at the prison opened fire in response to the blast. “As soon as I heard the blast, I ran out and that's when I got hurt,” the witness told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to security reasons.

“The soldiers... at the entrance gate fired shots recklessly.”

The witness said they were about 10ft away from the blasts but remained unharmed by the explosion. However, he sustained injuries from gunfire shrapnel.

A lawyer present at the prison about an hour prior to the blasts said areas for arriving visitors and receiving parcels were empty and extra security was deployed in front of the main gate.

Following the blasts, a number of cases scheduled to be heard in the adjacent court were cancelled.

Anti-junta resistance groups — the Yangon Revolution Force, Yangon Urban Guerrillas and General Strike Committee — released statements on their Facebook pages condemning the attacks for hurting civilians.

The Insein prison is the largest jail in Myanmar, housing nearly 10,000 inmates. Since the February coup last year, the junta has sent thousands of political prisoners to the facility, infamous for its reportedly inhumane treatment of inmates.

Since the coup, critics have accused the junta of ruling the southeast Asian country with an iron fist, implementing a bloody crackdown and imprisoning dissenters.

Nearly 2,367 civilians have died in a crackdown on resistance, according to rights watchdog group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. This number has been rejected by the junta.

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