Myanmar court sentences man to death for 2013 hotel bomb attack

YANGON (Reuters) - A Myanmar court sentenced a man to death on Thursday after finding him guilty of a 2013 bomb attack on a hotel that killed two people and wounded one, a police officer said.

Saw Tun Tun was convicted of bombing a guesthouse in the town of Taungoo, 55 km from the capital, Naypyitaw, in the first in a string of mysterious blasts in different parts of the country that has never been fully explained.

Saw Saw Tun had confessed to planting the bomb after being paid 20,000 kyat (about S$25) by a man called Saw Htowah, said a police officer in Taungoo. "As far as I know, Saw Htowah, the mastermind behind this blast, is still at large and I have no idea what their motive was," said the officer, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to media.

The Democratic Voice of Burma, a television station and website, also reported the sentencing.

The series of explosions and attempted bombings that in late 2013 included one at a hotel in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, which injured an American tourist.

Authorities blamed some of the blasts on hardliners within the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic minority rebel group that signed a ceasefire agreement with the government after almost six decades of fighting.

Representatives of the KNU pledged at the time to cooperate with investigators.

The police officer told Reuters that the KNU had helped with the investigation that led to the arrest of Saw Tun Tun, an ethnic Karen, two months after the blast.

Saw Tun Tun can appeal against his sentence.

Court officials were not available for comment.

Myanmar has been hit by bombings in the past. Three explosions at a festival in 2010 killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 170. In May 2005, three bombs at a convention centre and markets killed 23 people and wounded more than 160.

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