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Triple Bombing In Burma Leads To CIA Intrigue

Triple Bombing In Burma Leads To CIA Intrigue


by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thailand said it will pursue terrorists described by Burma as CIA-trained, because "maybe someone did something along the border," resulting in a synchronized triple-bombing in Burma which killed 19 people.

"Thailand does not harbor terrorists, and the Thai government will not allow terrorists to shelter on the Thai soil," said Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who hopes to maintain Bangkok's lucrative business relations with Burma, also known as Myanmar.

"The statement from Myanmar did not specify the Thai government's involvement. But maybe someone did something along the border," the Thai prime minister said on Monday (May 16).

"Myanmar will just have to name the suspects and co-ordinate with us through diplomatic channels, so that we can jointly arrest and interrogate the suspects," Mr. Thaksin said.

Thailand is a pliant military and economic ally of the United States, eager business partner with Burma, and publicly gives "humanitarian aid" to unarmed members of ethnic minorities fleeing occasional rebel skirmishes inside Burma.

Burma said America's Central Intelligence Agency trained, armed and financed "terrorists" on the Thai side of the lengthy, jungle-clad, porous border enabling them to detonate three bombs, made of a demolition explosive called RDX, in Burma's capital, Rangoon.

No one claimed responsibility, and no one was immediately arrested for the bombings at two supermarkets and a conference center on May 7.

"The anti-government elements in exile formed an alliance with remnant national race [minority ethnic] armed groups active in border areas, and set up the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma," an official Burmese regime statement published on Tuesday (May 17) said.

"They have been committing various destructive and terrorist acts, such as waging armed revolt against the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] government, hijacking, raiding the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand, detonation of bombs around the nation -- including at the [earlier] ceremony where the Buddha's tooth relic conveyed from the People's Republic of China was being kept for public obeisance -- destruction of roads, bridges, and gas pipelines," the accusation in the government-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

"It is crystal clear that the terrorists...and the time bombs, originated from training conducted with foreign experts at a place in a neighboring country by a world-famous organization of a certain superpower nation," Burma's Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told journalists on Sunday [May 15].

His circuitous language was widely perceived as fingering Thailand, the CIA and the United States.

Burma is mainland Southeast Asia's biggest country and consistently blasts the United States for trying to destabilize it, despite allowing a one billion U.S. dollar, 40-mile-long, natural gas pipeline from Burma into Thailand which includes a massive investment by California-based Unocal corporation -- which came under acquisition in April by ChevronTexaco.

Possible bombers, with motives and expertise, include:

-- Minority ethnic guerrillas fighting for the past 50 years in Burma for autonomy or independence along the border. Over the decades, they have received international medical treatment, illegal military training by foreign mercenaries, and a media platform to blast Burma's repressive government.

The regime named ethnic Shan, Karen and Karenni rebels, but they denied involvement. Competition among some guerrillas for illegal opium, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling routes through Burma's Shan state recently erupted in violence in mountains along the border.

-- Fugitive Burmese intelligence agents close to former prime minister Khin Nyunt, who was arrested in October amid charges of corruption and other abuses.

Khin Nyunt headed Burma's military intelligence agency, and his network was also dismantled, resulting in scores of arrests and a split within Burma's vicious and secretive domestic spy agency.

At least 38 intelligence officers linked to him were jailed in April for sentences ranging from 20 to 100 years. Hundreds more of his cronies await tribunals.

-- Burma's government itself has come under suspicion by its opponents who claim only the battle-hardened military regime had the capability and resources to stage the sensational triple bombing, because Rangoon is riddled with informants and monitored by government phone-tappers.

Internationally, Buddhist-majority Burma enjoys support from China, India, Singapore and elsewhere, but suffers some economic sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States amid demands for an end to military rule and human rights atrocities.

"In our world there remain outposts of tyranny and America stands with oppressed people on every continent...in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Senate nominating committee in January.

*************

Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 26 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is www.geocities.com/glossograph/

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