Bombs trigger Myanmar travel warnings

Bombs trigger Myanmar travel warnings
A girl walks on a pedestrian crossing in downtown Yangon, Myanmar.

YANGON - Western governments have warned travellers to exercise extreme caution in Myanmar after a series of minor bomb blasts, including one at an upmarket hotel that injured an American woman.

Britain, France, the United States and Australia all urged their nationals to be vigilant, although they stopped short of advising against travel to the former junta-ruled country.

"There is a high threat from terrorism," the British foreign office said in updated advice following a blast at the Traders Hotel in the city late Monday.

"Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners... The motivation for the attacks is at present unclear," it added.

The bombings come as Myanmar prepares to host a major regional sporting event in December and chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year.

Observers said the small explosions were likely aimed at stoking panic and harming reform efforts by the new quasi-civilian government, rather than causing mass casualties.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, which bore some similarity to explosions seen under the former junta, which usually blamed armed exile groups or ethnic rebels.

The injured American was taken to hospital with wounds to her thigh and her hand after a blast tore through her room at Traders, part of the Shangri-La group, which is popular with foreign tourists and business people.

Officials said they detained a 27-year-old suspect early Tuesday in the southeastern state of Mon on suspicion of breaking the explosives act and causing serious harm to others. He had previously stayed in the room at the Traders Hotel where the blast occurred.

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