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A bomb explosion on Wednesday in the Shan State city of Lashio killed two bank workers and injured 11 people, the government said. Police said they were investigating but had no word on possible suspects.
“It’s true. We just received a [local] police report about the bomb blast in Lashio this evening,” police spokesman Colonel Thet Naing, based in Burma’s capital Naypyidaw, told Reuters by phone.
The two dead were both women, government spokesman Zaw Htay said in a post on Twitter linked to a government statement on the Lashio explosion.
The military said in a statement 22 people were injured.
Another police spokesman, Colonel Myo Thu Soe, said police could not name any suspects at this stage. “We’re still investigating,” he told Reuters by phone.
A resident of Lashio, 27-year-old Lway Dehnin, said she heard the explosion around 4:30 p.m. near two banks located at the heart of the city near offices of the Ministry of Health.
“The explosion happened near Aya and Yoma banks. The windows in the buildings were broken. Also the windows of the Ministry of Health and some nearby houses were broken,” said Lway Dehnin.
Yoma Bank issued a statement saying two of its workers at its Lashio branch had been killed and that its two Lashio branches would be temporarily closed.
“Yoma Bank will continue to stand as one bank in this sorrowful situation,” said the bank in a statement.
Reuters was unable to reach anybody at the bank by phone.
Several unverified photographs and video clips posted on social media by local residents and journalists showed the bank buildings with blasted windows and damaged signboards. A wall of the Yoma Bank building also showed signs of damage.
Lashio, which has a population of more than 170,000 people, is one of the largest cities in Burma’s northeast, located on a main road connecting the central city of Mandalay with the main crossing on the border with China at Muse, about 110 kilometres (68 miles) to the north.
It is one of the largest cities in the country’s restive Shan State where several ethnic armed groups wage insurgencies against the Burmese military.
Bomb blasts in cities in Shan are not unusual, but they are typically much smaller. Civilian fatalities and injuries as a result of such incidents are rare.
Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seeking to revive a stuttering peace process to end decades of ethnic wars. Two ethnic armed groups signed a ceasefire with the government last week.
Ending near-perpetual civil war has been Suu Kyi’s stated top priority, but the Buddhist-majority country has seen the worst fighting with rebels in years since she took office almost two years ago.