Increased security in Bago raises local suspicions

Jan 15, 2008 (DVB), In the aftermath of the bomb explosion in Bago division on 11 January, local residents have expressed their suspicions about heightened security measures put in place before the attack.

Residents of Bago township said that the security presence there had increased since the explosion.

"There's very heavy security in town, with soldiers and policemen everywhere," one resident said, adding that the soldiers were wearing red scarves.

In Dike Oo township, Bago division, locals said that soldiers replaced local people on night guard duties along the railway shortly before the attack.

Dike Oo is closer than Bago township to the site of the explosion, which killed one man and left three women and a child injured.

Local authorities in the township have been forcing residents to take up night guard duties along the railway every night for the past seven years, manning the security huts located at every furlong along the track.

But soldiers took over the night watch the day before the explosion, one Dike Oo resident said.

"Soldiers were sent to replace the locals on night guard duties on the tenth, then the bomb exploded on the eleventh," the resident said.

"We're not sure whether it's a coincidence or not."

U Aye Myint, a lawyer and leader of legal aid group Guiding Star, was also suspicious about the government's apparent prior knowledge of the attacks.

"It's like a seasonal activity by the government; every year at around this time we hear rumours about bombings," U Aye Myint said.

"It seems like military intelligence always gets advance information on the planning of bomb attacks which always seems to turn out to be true , but if they have this information, why are they not able to prevent the attacks?"

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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