Explosions rock Myanmar’s capital

YANGON, June 24 (Reuters): Three explosions rocked Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, and two other towns within minutes of each other on Friday, residents said, adding several people were wounded but there were no reports of deaths. There was no immediate claim of responsibility or response from the authorities on the apparent bombings, which Myanmar's government typically blames on ethnic separatists.
A suspected bomb exploded in a jeep in Mandalay, the country's second-biggest city after the former capital, Yangon, at about 12:10 p.m. (0540 GMT). The incident happened near Zaygyo Market, a major shopping center in Mandalay, which is about 400 miles north of Yangon.
"We heard the car was badly damaged and four people were wounded," a Mandalay shopkeeper told Reuters by telephone, adding the market was closed, otherwise the number of casualties would have been higher. A bomb was also blamed for the second explosion in an unoccupied house opposite a market in Naypyitaw, the new capital about 205 miles north of Yangon at about 12:20 p.m. (0550 GMT).
"It was very powerful. We all heard a very loud explosion," said a government official who had been in a bookshop near the market at the time. "So far as I heard, there were no casualties. Security officials are now combing the area," said the official, who asked not to be named.
The third explosion hit Pyin Oo Lwin, a town about 45 miles north of Mandalay, at about 12:30 p.m. (0600 GMT), the Mandalay shopkeeper told Reuters after speaking with relatives living there. Also known as May Myo, Pyin Oo Lwin is a garrison town as well as a hill resort, home to four military institutes including the elite Defense Services Academy.
There have been about half a dozen bomb blasts in Myanmar cities, including Naypyitaw and Kachin State capital Myitkyina, in the past few weeks.
On May 18 two passengers were killed and nine others wounded when a bomb exploded on a train near Naypyitaw. The government normally blames ethnic armed groups that have been fighting successive central governments for greater autonomy since the country won independence in 1948. A few weeks ago fierce battles broke out between Kachin separatist rebels and Myanmar's army in northeast Myanmar near the Chinese border.