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Fresh bomb blasts rattle Myanmar, one dead

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Three bombs exploded in eastern Myanmar leaving one person dead, police said Thursday, the latest in a series of explosions that the United States denounced as "acts of terror".

Myanmar state media also branded the bombings a "terrorist act" and said they appeared to be targeted at tourist spots as the country gears up for an influx of foreign visitors.

The three bombs exploded overnight Wednesday-Thursday in Namkham in restive northeastern Shan state near the Chinese border, police said.

A municipal worker was killed, a police official told AFP.

The region has been shaken in recent years by fighting between the military and ethnic minority rebels.

Western governments have warned travellers to exercise extreme caution in Myanmar after the series of minor bomb blasts, including one at the luxury Traders Hotel in Yangon late on Monday that injured an American woman.

The United States condemned the attacks, urging the authorities to "proceed with full respect for due process under the rule of law".

"Acts of violence like those perpetrated and attempted over the past week have no place in civilised society, and we are confident in the people of this country to confront such acts of terror with strength, determination and a continued commitment to national peace, development, and reconciliation," the US embassy in Yangon said in a statement.

Myanmar state media said the attacks came at a "critical juncture" for the nation, with the government seeking a nationwide ceasefire deal with all ethnic armed groups.

"Almost everyone in the country is working for a forum for finding a political solution to bring peace to the country and end gun fires," the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

"These coward acts are to be assumed as (a) mere terrorist act."

Officials have said they detained a 27-year-old suspect early Tuesday in the southeastern state of Mon in connection with the bombing at the Traders Hotel.

He had previously stayed in the room where the blast occurred.

Police said several other people have been questioned in connection with the series of blasts in Yangon and other cities.

A further suspect was being sought by authorities in connection with an explosion Friday at a guesthouse in the town of Taunggu, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the capital Naypyidaw, that killed a man and a woman.

No group has claimed responsibility for the string of blasts, which bore some similarity to explosions seen under the former junta, which usually blamed armed exile groups or ethnic rebels.

Kachin rebels fighting the military in the country's far north -- including parts of Shan state -- denied responsibility for the latest explosions.

"We are absolutely not the one who planted the bombs. We are working for peace not only in Kachin but in the whole country," said James Lum Dau, the Thailand-based spokesman for the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The government, which came to power in 2011, has reached tentative peace deals with major ethnic minority rebel groups as part of political reforms that have led to the lifting of most Western sanctions and prompted a surge in foreign tourists.

But the changes have unsettled some regime hardliners and factions in the rebel organisations, according to experts.

The bombings come as Myanmar prepares to host a major regional sporting event in December and chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year.

hla-abd/dr/ia

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131017/fresh-bomb-blasts-rattle-myanmar-one-dead