Saturday, August 19, 2017

‘Homemade explosives’ blamed for Capital Hypermarket blasts

Four different explosions that rocked a supermarket in Yangon on November 20 were caused by “homemade explosives” planted throughout the shopping complex, according to managers at the market. The explosives appear to have caused limited damage and no injuries.

Homemade explosives that detonated at Capital Hypermart were hidden behind merchandise. Photo: Naing Wynn Htoon / The Myanmar TimesHomemade explosives that detonated at Capital Hypermart were hidden behind merchandise. Photo: Naing Wynn Htoon / The Myanmar Times

“We can say that the things that caused the blast yesterday were homemade explosives. Police are investigating the incident,” Daw Thwe Thwe Moe, general manager of Capital Hypermarket in Dawbon township, told reporters yesterday.

Staff members from the market disputed the terminology “bomb” when referring to the explosives. A statement released by the Ministry of Information on November 20 initially said homemade “bombs” caused the blasts, but that was amended yesterday to say “homemade explosives”.

The first blast occurred on the first floor of the shopping centre around 5:35pm on November 20, and the last blast went off just before 6pm. In total, four explosions were set off at Capital Hypermarket, according to staff members, including two on the upper floor and two on the ground floor. The homemade contraptions were concealed behind rows of store merchandise.

U Naing Oo, a manager at Capital Hypermarket, told The Myanmar Times that key evidence such as CCTV footage had been transferred to investigating police. He declined to comment on whether any suspect had been identified, or could be spotted in the security tapes.

“They were just minor explosions,” he said.

Following the blasts, Capital Hypermarket was closed down, with police securing the premises. Officials from the Tatmadaw’s Engineering Regiment, the Criminal Investigation Department of Insein township and the local police station rushed into the market in search of other unexploded devices.

The supermarket reopened yesterday afternoon.

A team led by Police Captain Myint Lwin of Dawbon township is continuing to investigate the incident. They have opened a case under section 3 of the 1980 Explosives Act. No motive for the attack has yet been made public.

Police evacuated shoppers and sealed off the Capital hypermart on November 20 following the blasts.. Photo: Nyan Zay Htet / The Myanmar TimesPolice evacuated shoppers and sealed off the Capital hypermart on November 20 following the blasts.. Photo: Nyan Zay Htet / The Myanmar Times

Visiting the supermarket after the explosion, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein instructed the investigating offers to review the CCTV evidence carefully for any clues as to the perpetrator, or perpetrators, according to U Naing Oo.

Managers at the supermarket said the damage incurred by the blast was minimal, estimated to total around K180,000 (US$139), mostly in products like juice bottles destroyed in the explosions.

In an interview with the Ministry of Information, Police Major Soe Myint Aung of Dawbon township said the explosions were not severe and caused no harm to anyone in the shopping mall.

In a similar incident in Yangon last week, two explosions occurred at Ocean Super Centre on the corner of Pyay Road and Taw Win Street in Mayangone township. The two blasts, one in the men’s ground floor restroom and one in the complex’s car park, occurred around 8:15pm on November 17, according to The Global New Light of Myanmar.

The state media report said chemical liquids were found at Ocean Super Centre in a bottle and in a tube. There were no injuries reported in that incident either.