Asia Pacific

Bomb Blast, Shootings Rock Myanmar-China Border Town

A bomb blast and a spate of shootings in a Myanmar-China border town have killed two people and wounded at least nine, rescue workers and locals said on Tuesday.

No group has so far claimed the attacks in Muse, Myanmar’s main gateway to China, which is home to several militia groups jockeying for control over lucrative casinos and the drug trade.

One woman died and five people were wounded in a bomb attack on a police traffic post on Monday, said a local NGO worker who requested anonymity.

Later that night, the police station was attacked “with small arms and heavy weapons,” the worker said, killing another person and leaving four wounded.

A member of a volunteer rescue group who helped transport people to hospital confirmed the two deaths but put the wounded tolls higher, saying six people, five of them militia members, had been injured in the bombing, and another five injured in the police station attack.

A separate, drive-by shooting on Tuesday morning injured two more suspected militia members, both the NGO worker and the rescuer said.

Local media also reported the attacks.

A police spokesman for the area could not be reached for comment.

Muse is home to several militia groups controlled by Myanmar’s army — which has an agreement with China not to station troops along the border.

The military uses the militias as proxies in a long-running conflict with ethnic rebel groups which operate in the area, including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

TNLA spokesman Major Tar Aik Kyaw told AFP his group was not involved in the Muse attacks.

Violence has soared across Myanmar since the military’s coup last year, with the junta leading a bloody crackdown on dissent in addition to its long-running conflicts with the ethnic groups.

Muse lies on the path of a proposed $8.9 billion high-speed rail link from China’s landlocked Yunnan province to Myanmar’s west coast, part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

But the region is awash with weapons and a center for meth production as armed rebels and militias jostle for a share of any potential windfall.

In 2018, two Chinese nationals were among 19 people killed when ethnic rebels attacked security force posts and a casino near Muse.

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