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Bank blast kills two, injures 11 in northern Myanmar

YANGON: Two people were killed and 11 wounded when a bomb exploded on Wednesday at a bank in northern Myanmar, officials said, amid continuing violence despite a fraught peace process.

The bomb went off in the town of Lashio in Shan state, which has seen several ethnic insurgencies over the decades — although targeted strikes in urban areas are rare.

Two female staffers at a branch of Yoma bank were killed and 11 other people injured, a security officer on the scene told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Some nearby buildings were destroyed as well. The explosion was quite heavy. Security is still working to clear the area,” the officer said.

Pictures showed shattered windows at the bank, damaged cars on the street and rescue services arriving.

Soldiers were deployed at the scene.

A branch of an adjoining bank was damaged by the explosion. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay wrote on his Facebook page that two “innocent women” were dead and 11 civilians injured by the bomb, while Yoma bank issued a statement of condolence.

“Yoma Bank is deeply sorry for this loss. We have to stand together united as ‘One Bank’ under this sorrowful situation,” it said.

A duty police officer in the capital Naypyidaw confirmed the deaths and said survivors were getting help in the hospital.

“We are still trying to get a casualty list as some are in the operating room at the moment,” the officer said. “We didn’t get details yet.”

Some two dozen conflicts are festering around Myanmar’s borderlands, where ethnic rebels have for decades fought the state for more autonomy.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who came to power in 2016, has made peace a priority but she is in a delicate power-sharing agreement with the military.

Suu Kyi made some progress in the flagging peace process earlier this month when two ethnic groups, the New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union, signed onto a ceasefire.

They joined eight others who had inked the deal before she took office.

Myanmar’s patchwork of ethnic groups make up around a third of the population, but the government and military have long been dominated by the majority Bamar ethnic group.

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