YANGON, Myanmar — Bombs exploded almost simultaneously in three Myanmar cities Friday, wounding at least two people, the government and residents said.
It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks, but bombings have become increasingly frequent in Myanmar, where pro-democracy activists and ethnic groups are at odds with the military-backed regime.
A government official told The Associated Press that one blast hit near a market in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, not far from a zone housing most of the new city's hotels.
"It was very powerful. We all heard a very loud explosion," said another government official who had been in a bookshop near the market at the time.
"So far as I heard, there were no casualties. Security officials are now combing the area," said the official, who asked not to be named.
Another explosion occurred near another market in the country's second-largest city, Mandalay.
It destroyed a car and wounded a traffic policeman and another person, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The incident happened near Zaygyo Market, a major shopping center in Mandalay, which is about 400 miles north of Yangon.
"We heard the car was badly damaged and four people were wounded," a Mandalay shopkeeper told Reuters by telephone, adding the market was closed, otherwise the number of casualties would have been higher.
No claim of responsibility
About 20 miles to the north, a third explosion hit the town of Pyinoolwin, home to a defense academy, a resident reached by phone there said.
There was no claim of responsibility. The government had blamed ethnic Karen rebels for a bombing in Naypyitaw this month and a May train attack near the capital that killed two and injured nine.
Myanmar, under military rule since 1962, held its first elections in 20 years last November.
The new government, comprising mostly retired military officers, has promised democratic reforms but made no major gestures in that direction. Critics say the vote was orchestrated to keep power in the military's hands.
Three explosions rocked Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, and two other towns within minutes of each other on Friday, residents said, adding several people were wounded but there were no reports of deaths.Video: Freed Myanmar activist speaks out (on this page)
There was no immediate claim of responsibility or response from the authorities on the apparent bombings, which Myanmar's government typically blames on ethnic separatists.
A suspected bomb exploded in a jeep in Mandalay, the country's second-biggest city after the former capital, Yangon, at about 12:10 p.m. (1:40 a.m. ET).
There have been about half a dozen bomb blasts in Myanmar cities, including Naypyitaw and Kachin State capital Myitkyina, in the past few weeks.
On May 18, two passengers were killed and nine others wounded when a bomb exploded on a train near Naypyitaw.
A few weeks ago fierce battles broke out between Kachin separatist rebels and Myanmar's army in northeast Myanmar near the Chinese border.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.