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Four detained, reportedly facing terrorism charges, after Sittwe bombings

The site of one of the bomb blasts that took place in Sittwe on Saturday. (Photo: Burma's Information Committee)

Four civilians including an ex-political prisoner and a former administrator were detained in Rakhine State on Sunday, reportedly on counter-terrorism charges, a day after three bombs rocked the state capital Sittwe.

The four were remanded into custody by the Sittwe Township Court at around 3 p.m. on Monday.

Reuters reported that one policeman sustained minor injuries in the bombings over the weekend, which took place in the early hours of Saturday and appeared to target the home of a Rakhine State government official, the local high court and a land records office.

“Naing Soe is a peace activist,” said Chit Ei Hlaing, the sister of Naing Soe, an ex-political prisoner who was one of those arrested on Sunday. “He is a youth activist who advocated for signing the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement]. Would such a person who has been actively involved in the peace process plant bombs?”

DVB was unable to contact the Sittwe Myoma Police Station, and could not independently confirm whether the four were detained on suspicion of involvement in Saturday’s incident, but a local lawyer said that among the charges being brought against them are “offences related to bombings.”

According to the government’s Information Committee, three additional improvised explosive devices were also discovered, undetonated, in Sittwe on Saturday.

“They were charged under 50[a] and [i] of the counter-terrorism law and remanded into custody until 12 March. I have not been allowed to meet with the defendants,” said lawyer Myo Myint Thein.

The former political prisoner Naing Soe is also a central committee member of the Arakan National Council, an umbrella organisation for several ethnic Rakhine advocacy groups. The other three civilians detained were Than Shwe, Shwe Htun Aung and Maung Oo Myint.

A much larger explosion tore through a local bank in Lashio, Shan State, last week, killing two people and injuring several more. Authorities have not as yet indicated that there is any connection between the two bombings.