Bomb kills six on restive Burma border

Dec 18, 2009 (AFP), Six people have been killed and 12 injured when a time bomb exploded in Burma's restive Karen state on Wednesday night, an official told AFP Thursday.

He said the bomb was detonated at 9pm (1430 GMT) on Wednesday as the ethnic Karen celebrated their New Year in the southeastern state bordering Thailand.

"Altogether six people were killed and another 12 were injured when a timed-bomb exploded," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"One injured person is in a critical condition. It happened as they celebrated their New Year's Day party," he said.

The bomb exploded in Phapun town in northeastern Karen State, about 120 miles (192 kilometres) from the economic hub, Rangoon, he said.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the bomb went off in the middle of market stalls where a new year festival was being held.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the bomb, but the town is close to the area where separatists have been fighting a decades-long insurgency.

The Karen National Union has been fighting the Burmese government for autonomy for more than five decades. Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962.

Altogether 17 armed groups and some 40 small ethnic groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the current military junta since it took power in 1988.

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