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Blasts kill 9 at Myanmar water festival

Three bomb blasts rocked a park in Myanmar’s main city Yangon on Thursday as thousands of revellers celebrated an annual water festival, leaving nine people dead and 75 wounded, officials said.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2010 00:03 IST

Three bomb blasts rocked a park in Myanmar’s main city Yangon on Thursday as thousands of revellers celebrated an annual water festival, leaving nine people dead and 75 wounded, officials said.

The blasts occurred near Kandawgyi Lake in the military-ruled country’s commercial hub, where thousands of people had gathered for water-throwing festivities to mark the Buddhist New Year.

“Nine people were killed — five men and four women,” an official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that a fourth bomb was found and defused.

The blasts came as the country prepares for elections planned for this year that critics have dismissed as a sham due to the effective barring of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is a serving prisoner.

About 100 people gathered outside Yangon General Hospital awaiting news of their relatives.

A tearful 40-year-old woman said her 57-year-old sister had been killed in one of the explosions, while her 25-year-old niece was being treated for serious injuries.

“I’m very sad. We just wanted to visit the water festival and then this happened,” she said, asking not to be named.

Myanmar has been hit by several bomb blasts in recent years, which the junta has blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic rebels.

The army has ruled Myanmar since 1962, partly justifying its grip on power by the need to fend off ethnic rebellions that have plagued remote border areas for decades.