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Myanmar police detain six in Rakhine bombing probe

YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – At least six people have been detained on suspicion of planting bombs that exploded over the weekend in parts of Rakhine’s state capital Sittwe, police said Tuesday. 

An officer at Sittwe Township’s police station confirmed to Anadolu Agency that the suspects all are ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

“The township court has remanded them in custody for a two-week period,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

“One is from the ANC,” he said by phone, referring to the Arakan National Council, an ethnic rebel group.

The ANC is a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council, an umbrella association that represents ethnic armed groups.

Media reports said Soe Naing, a member of the ANC’s central committee, was among the six detainees.

Three bombs exploded in different locations of Sittwe around 4am Saturday morning. One police officer was injured in a bomb blast at the home of a high-ranking official while two more bombs went off near a township court and a land record office. 

Police also found three other unexploded bombs in the town.

The blasts in Sittwe follow a deadly bombing at a local bank branch in Lashio town in Shan state last Wednesday that killed two employees and injured 22 others. 

A third blast occurred near a major trade zone in Shan state late Sunday.

Several ethnic armed rebel groups are active in Shan, the largest ethnic area in Myanmar.

Of the groups, the Northern Alliance -- a collation of the Kachin Independent Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Arakan Army -- attacked military checkpoints, police outposts and the 105th Mile Trade Zone in Muse in Shan state in November 2016.

However, no group has claimed responsibility for the series of blasts over the past few days.