Myanmar warns of terrorist acts during Water Festival

Other News Materials 5 April 2008 10:53 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Myanmar's junta warned of increased terrorist acts during the upcoming Water Festival and the national referendum, claiming two "terrorists" had been arrested last month, state media reports said Saturday.

In an article in The New Light of Myanmar, the government mouthpiece, it was revealed that authorities had in March arrested a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party who had attended "explosives courses in a neighbouring country."

It added that another alleged saboteur, sent into the country by Myanmar student activities living abroad, had also been seized carrying explosives last month, and had been linked to past terrorist acts perpetrated in Yangon in 2004 and 2005.

The newspaper did not disclose the saboteurs' identities.

"It has been learned that terrorists will target busy places and strategic places to create public panic," the article warned. "It can be deduced that those terrorists, if they had escaped arrest, would surely commit terrorist acts during the Thingyan (Water Festival) and in the places where public polls for the referendum will be held."

Myanmar, like Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, celebrates its traditional new year on April 13 to 15, marking the advent of the rainy season.

The country will hold a referendum some time in May to vote on a new constitution that will legitimize the military's dominant role in the country's future political set up and will exclude NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May, 2003, from running.

The NLD, which won the 1990 general election but has been blocked from assuming power by the military for the past 18 years, recently issued a proclamation urging the Burmese people to vote "no" in the referendum, in order to reject the military-drafted charter.