Myanmar bomb blast kills 10: government official

YANGON — A bomb blast in the capital of Myanmar's northern Kachin state has killed 10 people, including two women, a government official in the military-dominated country said on Monday.

Another 23 people, including some 15 children, were injured in the explosion on Sunday evening in the town of Myitkyina, the official, who did not wish to be named, told AFP.

The blast occurred in a two-story house and caused a fire that spread to two neighboring homes, he said.

The explosion appeared to have been unintentional, occurring when a man in the building was "showing others how to plant a bomb", the source said.

He added that there were several orphans living in the dwellings, some as young as three.

Two other bombs exploded in the same town on Saturday but caused no casualties, according to the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Myanmar has been hit by several bomb blasts in recent years, most of them minor, which the authorities have blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic minority fighters.

Several ethnic rebel groups, seeking more autonomy and rights, have waged war against the state since independence in 1948, leading to six decades of civil conflict in some regions, although most groups have signed fragile ceasefires.

In the areas where fighting continues, rights groups have accused the army of waging a brutal counter-insurgency involving the rape, torture and murder of villagers and the recruitment of child soldiers.

A nominally civilian government replaced Myanmar's long-ruling military junta in March.

Observers say the ethnic minority conflict is the main threat facing the regime, posing an even bigger challenge for the long-term future of the country than democratic reforms.

Fighting between the army and ethnic militias has intensified in recent months in northern and eastern parts of the country.

In August, state media accused ethnic fighters in Kachin state of killing seven people who visited a Chinese-run dam at the centre of an ongoing conflict between the army and rebels.

In June, bomb blasts rattled three Myanmar cities, including the capital Naypyidaw, injuring two people.

In April last year, in the worst attack in five years in Myanmar's main city Yangon, a series of blasts left 10 people dead and about 170 wounded as thousands of people gathered for festivities to mark the Buddhist New Year. — Agence France-Presse

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