News / Asia

Radical Burma Buddhist Monk Unhurt in Bomb Blast

Burma police officers inspect a damaged vehicle at the scene of a small blast that happened close by the vehicle in Mandalay, July 22, 2013.
Burma police officers inspect a damaged vehicle at the scene of a small blast that happened close by the vehicle in Mandalay, July 22, 2013.
Reuters
A bomb exploded meters away from a radical Buddhist monk as he delivered a mass sermon in Burma, police said on Monday, the latest flare-up in tensions pitting Buddhists against minority Muslims.
 
Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
x
Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, June 27, 2013.
Wirathu, the prominent monk who heads a movement accused of stirring violence against Muslims, said he believed the blast on Sunday evening in Burma's second city, Mandalay, was intended to silence him.
 
The home-made bomb went off inside a parked car, according to police and witnesses. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
 
Tensions have been smoldering between radical elements of Burma's Buddhist majority and Muslims. Bouts of religious violence have killed at least 237 people and displaced 150,000 in the past year, testing the resolve of a two-year-old quasi-civilian government.
 
The device exploded during a ceremony conducted by Wirathu,  who once called himself “the Burmese bin Laden”. He is the chief proponent of a movement known as 969, which reformist President Thein Sein's office has described as a “symbol of peace”.
 
Wirathu was unharmed, despite being 40 feet (12 meters) from the blast, according to police. Five people were slightly injured, including a novice monk.
 
Sources close to Wirathu could not be immediately reached for comment. However, the monk told Radio Free Asia's Burmese service that he had previously received a sound recording containing a threat to his life, which he believed was the voice of a Muslim cleric.
 
The bomb, he said, was intended to silence him.
 
“I've no idea who exactly carried out this explosion. But it must have been done by those who usually carry out terrorist acts,” he told Radio Free Asia. “The motive could be to shut my mouth.”
 
Reuters investigations in two of the hotspots of unrest - Rakhine state and the central city of Meikhtila  - have revealed the violence was on both occasions fanned by monks who led Buddhist mobs.
 
“We can say it was a small hand-made bomb that caused the explosion. We are not in a position to reveal any more information at the moment since investigation is ongoing,” a Mandalay police officer told Reuters by telephone, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
 
Death threat received
 
A witness said security had since been stepped up in Mandalay. Even prior to the explosion, security had been tight during Buddhist events held in the past week in the commercial capital, Rangoon.
 
The explosion took place on the fifth and final day of mass sermons held by Wirathu.
 
The president's office, which said it wants to foster peace, tolerance and unity in ethnically diverse Burma, has described Wirathu as “a son of Lord Buddha.” Buddhists make up about 90 percent of the estimated 60 million population.
 
The 969 movement has been accused of stirring anti-Muslim sentiment in a deeply Buddhist nation, where curbs on freedom of speech and assembly have eased since the end of military rule two years ago.
 
A Reuters investigation last month showed 969 monks were providing a moral justification for a wave of anti-Muslim bloodshed that could derail Burma's nascent reforms.
 
Government officials were unavailable for comment about Sunday's explosion.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs