Myanmar state media says five killed in blast were building a bomb

A protester throws a petrol bomb during a crackdown on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon, on March 16, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

YANGON (REUTERS) - Five people killed in an explosion in Myanmar this week, including an ousted lawmaker, had been building a bomb, media controlled by the military junta said on Wednesday (May 5).

Since the military seized power and ousted an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, Myanmar has seen an increasing number of small blasts in cities and towns, some targeting government offices and military facilities.

There have been no claims of responsibility.

The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said security forces had searched the scene of the Monday afternoon blast in the central Bago area and found wire, batteries and a damaged phone and phone parts.

The newspaper said the explosion of the "home-made mine" killed four men on the spot including an ousted lawyer maker from Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party while another man died of his injuries in hospital.

A spokesman for the NLD was not available for comment. Ms Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained since the coup, along with many members of her party.

Independent Myanmar media outlets reported on Tuesday that the five people killed by at least one parcel bomb included the ousted lawmaker, a resident and police officers who had joined a civil disobedience movement opposing military rule.

Another police officer involved in the civil disobedience movement had his arms blown off by the explosion, media said on Tuesday. It was not clear if that was the person who was reported to have died in hospital.

The military has blamed people bent on destabilising the country for the series of blasts.

The junta said it had to seize power because its complaints of fraud in a November election won by Ms Suu Kyi's party were not addressed by an election commission that deemed the vote fair.

There have been daily protests and a surge of violence since the coup, with security forces killing more than 760 civilians, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) rights monitoring group.

The junta disputes the AAPP figure and has banned the group.

It acknowledged 248 deaths in mid-April and in addition says 24 police and soldiers have been killed in the protests.

Reuters is unable to verify casualties because of curbs placed on media by the junta. Many journalists are among the thousands of people who have been detained.

The independent Tachileik news agency based in Shan State in the north-east said on Facebook that its licence had been revoked, the latest of eight such news outlets to be shut under orders of the authorities.

Junta-controlled MRTV state television announced on Tuesday a ban on satellite television receivers, saying outside broadcasts threatened national security. It said anyone caught violating the ban risked jail.

With mobile Internet access largely cut off in a bid to quell the anti-junta protests, Myanmar has increasingly appeared headed back to a state of isolation that preceded a decade of democratic reforms.

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