Image: Myanmar police inspect the site of a blast in Mandalay
AFP - Getty Images
Myanmar police inspect the site of a blast which destroyed a car near the main market in the central city of Mandalay on June 24, 2011.
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/24/2011 6:03:11 AM ET 2011-06-24T10:03:11

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.

Video: Freed Myanmar activist speaks out

  1. Transcript of: Freed Myanmar activist speaks out

    ANN CURRY, co-host: And now to the first US television interview with Aung San Suu Kyi since her release from detention last November. She has been compared to Nelson Mandela in her fight for freedom and democracy in Myanmar , formerly known as Burma , and its military regime has forced her to spend 15 of the last 22 years in detention. We should mention we conducted the interview over the telephone after I was denied a visa, though I traveled to Asia to interview her in person. But we were able to get a camera into the country, which was risky because she is still under surveillance and journalists are followed and questioned. After the euphoria upon her release, Aung San Suu Kyi , who calls Gandhi an inspiration, is refocusing her nonviolent movement for democracy . In your effort to free your people from oppression, you say you're willing to engage in a dialogue with a military regime which has been condemned for ongoing systematic violations of human rights, including rape, arbitrary decisions, disappearances and torture. What makes you now willing to negotiate with the regime accused of such crimes?

    Ms. AUNG SAN SUU KYI: You have to talk to people if you want to bring about peaceful change, and even if you know that what they have done is very, very bad.

    CURRY: You've indicated that you're willing to reconsider your position on international sanctions .

    Ms. KYI: We want to review the position of sanctions. We want to see what the political and social effects are.

    CURRY: Are you saying international sanctions are on the table?

    Ms. KYI: It depends on what the outcome of the dialogue is.

    CURRY: What has allowed you to cling to your dream for freedom and democracy for Burma for all these years?

    Ms. KYI: Freedom and democracy are goals which you never give up.

    CURRY: Not even, in her case, when her husband was dying of cancer and the regime refused him a visa. He died in 1999 in London . She was also separated from her two sons, seeing her youngest in December for the first time in 10 years. But still she considers herself lucky.

    Ms. KYI: It is lovely to see my son, and I was grateful to see that he's still alive and well . And there are many of my colleagues whose children are no longer alive.

    CURRY: President Obama has called you one of his heroes.

    Ms. KYI: I do appreciate his words very much, but I have to say that if I were the blushing kind I'd blush to be called a hero.

    President BARACK OBAMA: It is unacceptable to steal elections, as the regime in Burma has done again for all the world to see.

    CURRY: What do you want from America ?

    Ms. KYI: We want the people of America to be aware of what is going on in Burma now, just writing to their members of Congress , and then they must call for an all-inclusive political process in Burma .

    CURRY: Have you ever doubted your course of nonviolence?

    Ms. KYI: No, not at all because violent methods may bring about change quicker, but they leave such wounds.

    CURRY: Where do you see the opportunity that allows you to believe that change will happen within your lifetime?

    Ms. KYI: I have seen great changes. In the first place , the people were much more open. They were much braver, shall we say? And there were many more young people among our supporters. And the number of cell phones that I've seen, that's a great change. We're moving forward to a more open era, and not because of any policies but because of the IT revolution and the whole change in communications all over the globe.

    CURRY: You are called "Lady" by your people.

    Ms. KYI: Well, I suppose there are worse names than The Lady . I think I'd like them to see me as a worker.

    CURRY: People take great inspiration from you. They carry your picture in taxi cabs, in towns all over your country. So I wonder, how will you want the world to have remembered you when you were gone?

    Ms. KYI: I want them to remember me as somebody who has performed what she should have performed, who has done her duty. And I think there is nothing more satisfactory then the knowledge that you have done your duty.

    CURRY: And Aung San Suu Kyi supporters tell us the regime has now approved giving her Internet access , and she said in our interview that she would like to use Twitter and other social media to reach young people all over the world. Coming up, the latest on that remarkable story of a woman who found her real family 23 years after she was kidnapped as a baby. We're going to hear from her and her parents. But first, this is TODAY on NBC .

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