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Myanmar hotel blast suspect captured on CCTV

16 October 2013, 12:33

Yangon - A man arrested in the Myanmar hotel bombing that injured an American woman had been under surveillance for alleged involvement in the planting of a second device found at a restaurant the next morning, police said.

Authorities moved in on Saw Myint Lwin, aged 26, after matching his photograph with images captured on the Traders Hotel closed circuit television camera, a statement issued by Mon state police on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old rode his motorcycle through a barricade set up to apprehend him in Belin Township, it said, but police caught up with him following a chase. It was not immediately clear if charges had been filed.

The explosion at Traders Hotel, one of Myanmar's ritziest, was the most high-profile in a series of low-intensity bombings that the government alleges is an attempt to tarnish the image of the budding democracy as it emerges from decades of oppressive military rule.

Officials said the attacks appear to be organised, with a restaurant, two bus stops, Buddhist temples and a market all targeted within the last week. No one has claimed responsibility.

The homemade time bomb that went off just before midnight on Monday at the Traders Hotel was hidden in the bathroom in an American family's room on the ninth floor. There was no indication they had been targeted.

Hours later, a small bomb went off in Saggaing near Mandalay in the restaurant of a hotel frequented by tourists. It's not clear what role Saw Myint Lwin is alleged to have played.

No one was hurt in that blast or another that followed hours later in Taw Oo Pone Nya Shin Pagoda in the same region, said police officer Tin Maung Aye.

The government speculated the bombings were being organised by individuals or groups who want to smear the country's image as it prepares to take leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional grouping in 2014.

It is also hosting the Southeast Asian Games, a showcase sporting event, later this year, noted Ko Ko Hlaing, a political adviser to the president.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Tuesday in Washington she could not comment on any motive behind the bombings. She said the embassy released a security message to alert US citizens who reside in or are travelling to the country to the recent bombings.

"While there is no indication at this time that any of these IEDs were specifically directed toward US citizens, the embassy asks that all US citizens exercise an appropriate level of caution," she said.

- AP

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