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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid