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Burma's Opposition Groups Deny Role in Rangoon Bombings

Opponents of Burma's military government have denied responsibility for three bomb blasts in Rangoon Saturday that left at least 11 people dead and more than 150 wounded.

Soon after the bombings at three Rangoon sites on Saturday, Burma's military government blamed ethnic minority rebels and an exiled pro-democracy group for the attacks.

Burma's state-run media accused several groups including the Shan State Army and the Karen National Union, both of which have been fighting long-running separatist battles with the government.

The government also accused a self-proclaimed "government in exile", the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, or NCGUB. Sann Aung, an NCGUB spokesman, joined officials from the other dissident organizations in denying any part in the violence.

"We totally reject the accusation that NCGUB and the democratic forces are behind the bomb blasts we totally reject," said Sann Aung. "And also we would like to mention our deep sorrow for the death of innocent people at the bomb blasts."

One of the three explosions occurred at the capital's trade center, where a Thai trade exhibition was being held. No Thais were reported killed in the bombing, but a Thai military plane was sent to Rangoon Sunday morning and returned to Bangkok with 128 Thai citizens, including one woman wounded in the bombing.

Observers have suggested other possible perpetrators of the bombings, including supporters of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. Khin Nyunt and his former colleagues in Burma's military intelligence apparatus were purged last year in a power struggle within the ruling State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC.

In early April, 38 military intelligence personnel were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on charges of corruption. Khin Nyunt remains under house arrest.

One of those suggesting involvement by the Khin Nyunt faction is Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Thailand-based National Council of the Union of Burma, another dissident group.

"We're aware [of] the increasing tension between the SPDC leaders," said Soe Aung. "According to our sources…General Khin Nyunt's people who…were still at large would do something in order to counter the activities of the SPDC military leaders."

Saturday's bomb blasts came less than two weeks after a bombing in the city of Mandalay that left two people dead and 15 wounded.

The government claimed rebel groups carried out that and other recent attacks, including an attack on a vehicle convoy in southern Burma and the bombing of a utility tower, both last month.