Bombings in Myanmar (May 7, 2005)

Two bombs exploded at a shopping mall in the Myanmar capital killing 11 and wounding 130 in an attack blamed on Karen ethnic group.

Most nations have little to no terrorism afflicting them: some have too much.

YANGON, MYANMAR — If I were to ask you what was the first thing to come to mind when I mention the word ‘Myanmar’, would it be “wait, what’s a ‘Myanmar'”? I hope not.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma when it was a British ‘colony’, is a southeast Asian nation that rarely makes the headlines. One person who probably has crossed your radar is Aung San Suu Kyi, the longstanding Burmese opposition leader and now leader of the National League for Democracy and 1991 Nobel Laureate. Her fight for freedom in her native land is legion.

Unfortunately, of late Ms. Suu Kyi has earned a rather different reputation, that of a supporter of genocide by the Myanmar army against a people known as the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group in the country’s northwest. The situation led to a mass exodus to countries like Bangladesh and shows no signs of ebbing.

The area where the Rohingya live is not the only part of Myanmar that is restive. The country has somewhere around 135 different ethnicities (these are official government stats) although the Rohingya are not seen as citizens (they are viewed as illegal immigrants) which explains in part why they are persecuted.


The army has been fighting wars on several fronts for many years and in some cases militants have engaged in acts of violence not only against Myanmar military forces but against civilians. On this day in 2005 three bomb explosions hit busy shopping areas in the Burmese capital Yangon (also called Rangoon), killing at least 11 people and wounding 130.

Government officials blamed the Karen National Union, the Shan State Army-South, and the Karenni National Progressive Party (the Karen are one of the aforementioned ethnic groups): they all denied the attack.

“Terrorists” acted with the objective of disrupting stability and tranquility.

Conflict in Myanmar is ongoing, and not limited to the well-covered Rohingya crisis. Violence seems to be the favoured MO of some of the groups pushing back against the government. Hence, we will see more attacks, some of which will be terrorist in nature.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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