Tuesday, July 1

Explosion July 1st

[Gleaned From Wire Services]

An explosion at dawn Tuesday rocked the office of a government-backed social welfare group whose members have been accused in attacks against Myanmar’s pro-democracy opposition, witnesses said. The witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of official reprisal, said the blast occurred at the office of Union Solidarity and Development Association office in the northern Yangon suburb of Shwepyithar. I have done a good bit of teaching in this industrial suburb. No casualties were reported.

Residents in Shwepyithar said riot police and security officials swarmed into the area after the explosion.

No further details were immediately available, and there were no immediate claims of responsibility. The government has not blamed any group for the bombing.

The USDA, a social welfare organization which was formed 15 years ago , claims to have more than 23 million members out of a national population of 57 million. Its members often have been accused of involvement in attacks against supporters of the pro-democracy opposition.

The organization, headed by junta chairman Senior Gen. Than Shwe, is to be transformed into a political party when general elections are held in 2010. Currently, the USDA is engaged in a wide range of social activities, from organizing health treatment in rural areas to planting trees.

The last explosion in Yangon, the country’s largest city, occurred in April when two bombs damaged some parked cars but caused no casualties.

The government often blames such attacks on anti-government dissident groups and separate ethnic rebels seeking autonomy.

Terrorism is rare but not unknown in Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962.

In 1990, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a general election but was not allowed to take power by the military, which continues to tightly control the country.

Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest, has been in detention without trial for more than 12 of the past 18 years.


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