Saturday, August 19, 2017

Explosions target South Dagon township immigration office

Four explosions detonated at the South Dagon township immigration office yesterday afternoon appear to have been caused by homemade water bottle bombs. The immigration office was the third location to be targeted in similar attacks occurring over the past week, after two retail outlets in Yangon reported similar incidents.

Tape cordons off the site of several explosions at the South Dagon township immigration office yesterday. Photo: Nyan Zay Htet / The Myanmar TimesTape cordons off the site of several explosions at the South Dagon township immigration office yesterday. Photo: Nyan Zay Htet / The Myanmar Times

The explosions began around 1:50pm, Police Major Thein Aung of the No 2 Commanding Force in Yangon told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

The immigration office was not occupied at the time of the blasts yesterday, which was a public holiday.

“The blasts were timed three minutes apart,” said a police officer at the South Dagon station who asked not to be named. “No one was injured and there was no damage. It was a small-scale explosion.”

Soon after the explosions, police were deployed to seal the premises, located on Pyi Daung Su Street and 64th Street.

Police found three M150 energy drink bottles filled with chemical liquids stashed in the immigration office bathrooms and one in a rubbish bin, according to a statement released by the Yangon Region Police Force. An additional fifth bottle, which did not go off, was found near another bathroom.

U Maung Oo, who runs a mechanical devices shop on the floor below the immigration office, said yesterday that he didn’t notice any strangers come in or out of the office. He said the explosions sounded like firecrackers.

“We were very startled after the explosions as we didn’t expect to hear that kind of sound,” he said.

Yangon Region Minister for Security and Border Affairs Colonel Tin Aung Htun paid a visit to the immigration office following the explosions, but he refused to comment on the situation, or on whether any suspects had been identified in any of the three recent bombings.

Captain Ohn Khine, a member of the commercial capital’s bomb squad team, said all three incidents are under investigation.

U Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of immigration under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, yesterday said he was aware of the South Dagon incident but did not have any further, specific information on the explosions.

The explosions follow two similar incidents targeting retail outlets in Yangon earlier this month. The first occurred at Ocean Super Centre on the corner of Pyay Road and Taw Win Street in Mayangone township. The twin 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 blasts appeared to have been triggered by homemade devices comprised of chemical liquids mixed in bottles.

On November 20, four homemade explosives also rocked Capital Hypermarket in Dawbon township. 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.

A statement released by the Yangon Police Force yesterday said all three incidents involved similar homemade explosives.