Bomb blasts kill eight at Myanmar’s notorious Insein Prison

Parcel bomb blasts killed eight people at Insein Prison on the outskirts of Yangon in Myanmar at 9.40am on Wednesday. Three prison staff and five visitors were killed, according to the Burmese military junta.

Five visitors were killed in the explosions, including four women and a 10 year old girl, who were all relatives of political prisoners.

Thirteen visitors, including a 9 year old boy and five prison staff, were injured and taken for treatment at Insein Hospital. None of the estimated 10,000 prisoners housed at the prison were killed or hurt in the blasts.

The bombs went off in the prison’s postal room. A third bomb was discovered in a plastic bag but did not detonate.

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One woman killed was delivering a rice box to her son Lin Htet Naing, aka “James.” James is a 35 year old student leader who entered Insein in June last year for opposing the military coup.

Insein prison is century-old prison infamous for its harsh treatment of prisoners. Thousands of political prisoners have been detained at Insein Prison since the military coup last year, which ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The former leader has been also imprisoned by the junta at a different prison in the capital Naypyidaw. Her Australian advisor Sean Turnell was also imprisoned and is currently detained in Insein Prison.

No one has claimed responsibility for planting the bombs but the junta blames “terrorists.” Usually, bomb attacks from resistance groups are targeted at individuals viewed as collaborating with the military, not civilians.

Resistance groups such as the Yangon Revolution Force, Yangon Urban Guerillas, and General Strike Committee condemned the attacks for hurting civilians.

Reports say soldiers at the prison opened fire in response to the explosions. One anonymous witness said that the soldiers “fired shots recklessly.” The witness said they were not injured by the bombs but were injured by shrapnel from the gunshots.

A resident said ten shots were heard after the explosion but they didn’t know if anyone was killed in the gunfire.

An estimated 2,367 civilians have died in the Burmese junta’s “crackdown on resistance” since the coup last year, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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