Explosion hits upscale Myanmar hotel, one injured: police

YANGON Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:52pm EDT

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YANGON (Reuters) - A female guest was injured in an explosion in an upscale hotel in Myanmar's biggest city late on Monday, police said, in what could be the latest in a string of bombings in recent days.

Police are already investigating a series of bombings that began on Friday, when an explosion killed two people and wounded one in a guesthouse in the town of Taungoo, about 55 km (35 miles) from the capital, Naypyitaw.

Although the cause of Monday's blast in Yangon has not yet been determined, police lieutenant captain Han Win Soe said: "We are looking at who stayed in the room before that guest."

Security officers were sifting through a debris-filled room on the ninth floor of Traders, a popular hotel in downtown Yangon, according to a Reuters witness. Glass from the room's window was spread out across the street below.

"It sounded like a subdued explosion," said Graeme Romer, a guest who was staying on the eighth floor.

He said he went downstairs to the lobby to ask about the explosion and saw an injured woman wrapped in bed sheets lying on the floor. "She was bleeding profusely," Romer said.

The hotel's general manager, Phillip Couvaras, confirmed that a guest had been taken to the hospital.

"The hotel management is working with the local authorities who are investigating this incident," he told reporters outside the hotel lobby. He said the blast occurred close to midnight.

Two bombs exploded in Yangon on Saturday, according to police, one at a bus stop that caused no injuries and another that slightly wounded two boys. Police also said they found an unexploded bomb in a Yangon restaurant on Monday.

Authorities have not said who they think is behind the recent bombings, although presidential spokesman Ye Htut linked them to Myanmar assuming chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

A new quasi-civilian government has launched sweeping political and economic reforms over the past two years after decades of military rule, with the United States, the European Union and others easing or lifting sanctions in response.

"It must have been carried out to create worries and concerns among the people and to make the international community doubt the security standard in Myanmar at a time when Myanmar is going to take the ASEAN chair," Ye Htut told Radio Free Asia's Burmese language service.

Myanmar has been hit by bombings before. Three explosions during the Water Festival in 2010 killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 170. In May 2005, three bombs at a convention center and markets killed 23 people and wounded more than 160.

Authorities blamed the 2005 bombing on ethnic rebel groups and a government in exile.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Paul Tait)

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