Explosions rock Myanmar's capital, two other towns

YANGON Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:09am EDT

1 of 4. People take picture of a damaged car after a blast in Mandalay, Myanmar, June 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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YANGON (Reuters) - Four explosions rocked Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, and two other towns on Friday, residents said, adding several people were wounded but no one had been killed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility or response from the authorities. Myanmar's government usually blames bombings on ethnic minority rebels.

The first three blasts went off within minutes of each other in three different places.

The first suspected bomb exploded in a jeep in Mandalay, the country's second-biggest city after the former capital, Yangon, at about 12:10 p.m. (0540 GMT).

The incident happened near Zaygyo Market, a major shopping center in the central city, about 400 miles north of Yangon.

"We heard the car was badly damaged and four people were wounded," a shopkeeper told Reuters by telephone from the town, adding the market was closed, otherwise the number of casualties would have been higher.

A bomb was also blamed for an explosion in an unoccupied house opposite a market in Naypyitaw, the new capital about 205 miles north of Yangon, at about 12:20 p.m. (0550 GMT).

"It was very powerful. We all heard a very loud explosion," said a government official who had been in a bookshop near the market at the time.

"So far as I heard, there were no casualties. Security officials are now combing the area," said the official, who asked not to be named.

The third explosion hit Pyin Oo Lwin, a town about 45 miles north of Mandalay, at about 12:30 p.m. (0600 GMT), the Mandalay shopkeeper told Reuters after speaking with relatives living there.

Also known as May Myo, Pyin Oo Lwin is a garrison town as well as a hill resort, home to four military institutes including the elite Defense Services Academy.

The fourth explosion went off at about 3 p.m. (0830 GMT) in the same part of Mandalay as the earlier blast, near a rubbish dump. No casualties were reported, the shopkeeper said.

There have been about half a dozen bomb blasts in Myanmar cities, including Naypyitaw and the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, in the past few weeks.

On May 18, two passengers were killed and nine were wounded when a bomb exploded on a train near Naypyitaw.

The government normally blames rebels who have been fighting successive central governments for greater autonomy since the country won independence in 1948.

Serious fighting broke out in the north of the country this month in Kachin state near the border with China, disrupting the operations of two Chinese-built hydropower plants.

Government troops fought with ethnic minority Kachin rebels, who state media said had destroyed 25 bridges in the area.

(Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)

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