Myanmar is emerging as one of Asia’s popular destinations for tourists and potential investors, but a blast Monday in the country’s most prestigious and well-guarded hotel is a reminder that risks remain as the country hobbles along a path to democratic rule.
Police say the explosion—in a guest room at Traders Hotel in downtown Yangon just before midnight Monday, injuring an American tourist—was most likely caused by a small bomb or home-made explosive device.
According to authorities, the explosion happened in a guest bathroom on the ninth floor of the 22-story hotel, which regularly houses foreign travelers, businessmen and visiting officials. The device was planted under the sink, deputy minister for tourism Tin Shwe said at a news conference Tuesday, who added that the incident could slow development of the country’s tourism sector.
Mr. Tin Shwe advised hoteliers to step up security, while some tour operators said potential visitors have expressed worries over their safety. “Some have now canceled their trip to Myanmar,” said Aye Kyaw, managing director of Ruby Land Travel & Tour. “We need the government to guarantee security in the country. If not, we cannot help the tourism sector grow.”
Monday night’s explosion followed a series of small, unexplained bomb blasts across Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and its commercial center. On Sunday afternoon, a bomb in a plastic bag went off in Tharkayta township, an area of Yangon about half an hour from the city center, injuring two teenagers, according to police. Another bomb detonated several hours later at a bus stop in Insein township. No casualties were reported.
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