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October 15, 2013

Burma Hotel Blast Caused by 'Time Bomb'

by VOA News

Burmese officials say an explosion that wounded an American guest at a luxury hotel in Rangoon was caused by a homemade time bomb.

Police have arrested three suspects but warn it is too early to speculate about the motive of the bombing that occurred late Monday in a guestroom at the prestigious Traders Hotel.

An American woman suffered minor injuries and was hospitalized following the explosion, which knocked out windows in the ninth floor room and sent shards of glass onto the street below.

The hotel, part of the Shangri-la Group, is popular with foreign tourists and business people. There was a heavy police presence outside the hotel Tuesday.

Monday's bombing is the latest in a series of small explosions throughout the country.

Earlier Monday, police said they found at least two unexploded bombs, one in Rangoon and the other in Mandalay. In recent days, a series of bombs have gone off in Burma, killing two people and leaving several wounded.

The two deaths took place on Friday when an explosion ripped through a guesthouse in the town of Taungoo, about 200 kilometers north of Rangoon. Two blasts in Rangoon on Sunday injured several people.

A police spokesman in Rangoon says one of the devices that was found Monday was successfully defused before it could go off.

"It was found by a janitor at local restaurant and then we were informed about the discovery. Experts examined and removed it. Security in Rangoon has been beefed up two to three times higher than before," he said.

No one has taken responsibility for the recent blasts.

Authorities are asking the public to report any suspicious packages.

A resident of Rangoon, who did not wish to be named, told VOA's Burmese service that the bombs are a concern.

"I'm worried and feel sad to hear such incident. I think it's certainly a destructive act for the country where changes are taking place," she said.

Small scale bombings were common during Burma's decades long military rule, but have become rare since the country started opening up two years ago.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.