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Security Exercise Causes Bomb Scare at US Embassy, Rangoon

A U.S. embassy spokesperson told VOA's Burmese Service on Monday that it issued an apology after a deployed tear gas canister irritated civilians passing by the American compound in Rangoon.

According to local police, residents reported hearing an explosion in the vicinity of the compound around 8 p.m., after which they noticed a foul smell wafting into the surrounding streets. Soon after, people in the area began complaining of eye irritation.

Rangoon Kamayut Police Station Duty Officer Oak Soe told VOA that police initially suspected an attack, triggering rumors that drew emergency services to the scene. U.S. officials quickly explained that a tear gas canister had been used on the compound as part of a training drill.

"On the evening of Sunday, July 24, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon held a routine security drill, which inadvertently inconvenienced passers-by and a neighboring business," an embassy representative said. "No one was injured and embassy operations are running as normal. We apologize to our neighbors and others who were in the area."

According to reports by Agence France Presse, a series of small blasts rocked the country in October 2013 after they appeared to target tourist spots, just as the emergent nation was experiencing a flood of foreign visitors following the end of military rule.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service. Portions of this report are from AFP.