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Accidents, pickpockets and ‘guerrillas’ keep police busy over Thingyan

"Rebel" revelers in Mandalay (Photo: DVB)

Police in Burma’s two largest cities have been busy this week, cracking down on petty crime and reckless driving, and “educating” Thingyan revelers who have taken to the streets outfitted as guerrilla rebels.

Although accidents and crime have spiked in many parts of the country as it celebrates the annual week-long water festival, Rangoon and Mandalay have seen the biggest rise in problems, according to police.

According to the Facebook page of the Myanmar Police Force, five people were killed and 71 others injured in traffic accidents during the first two days of the festivities.

Theft and other petty crimes were also reported, with arrests made in 45 cases, almost half of them in Rangoon alone. Pickpockets accused of stealing cash and mobile phones were the most common category of criminals.

Meanwhile, in Mandalay, police rounded up three groups of “guerrilla” revelers who were driving around the city in jeeps or light trucks, carrying fake weapons and dressed in black or green military uniforms reminiscent of those worn by armed rebels.

A total of 15 people were taken in to police custody to be “educated” about their inappropriate behaviour, according to the Myanmar Police Force Facebook page.

Elsewhere in the country, another major accident involving Buddhist pilgrims has claimed two lives in western Burma’s Arakan State.

Police in Kyaukphyu said that a truck carrying 55 pilgrims overturned at around 7:45 this morning as it was passing through the village of Min Pyin, en route to the Nan Mu Taung pagoda festival in Kyaukphyu Township.

Two people — one man and one woman — were killed instantly in the accident, while all of the other passengers aboard the truck suffered injuries, police said.

On Tuesday, a similar accident in Mon State resulted in the death of nine pilgrims celebrating the Buddhist New Year.