...By Gift BADEWO for TDPel Media.
Four Killed in Car Bombings at Buddhist New Year Celebration in Myanmar
On Thursday, a series of car bombs exploded at a pagoda in eastern Myanmar, killing four people and injuring 12 others.
The incident occurred during the Thingyan festival, which marks the start of the Buddhist new year and is usually a joyful occasion involving water fights.
However, since the coup in 2021, the festival has become politicised, with pro-democracy advocates calling for boycotts of junta-supported events.
The explosions destroyed at least three vehicles near Yan Taing Aung pagoda in Lashio township, eastern Shan state.
The Myanmar junta confirmed the death toll and said a three-year-old was among those injured.
Context: Myanmar in Turmoil
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a coup in 2021, with the army and anti-junta fighters frequently clashing.
The country has been hit by widespread protests, strikes, and a civil disobedience movement, which has been met with a violent crackdown by the military.
The blasts on Thursday came days after an estimated 130 people were reported killed in a junta air strike in central Myanmar, which prompted international outrage and condemnation.
Political Tensions During the Thingyan Festival
The Thingyan festival, which usually lasts for four days, has become a flashpoint for political tensions in Myanmar since the coup.
Pro-democracy advocates have been calling for boycotts of junta-supported events and urging people to avoid participating in festivities that are seen as legitimising the military regime.
As a result, the streets of the commercial capital Yangon were empty, with many residents staying home to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the recent air strike.
However, several hundred people still turned out to celebrate at city hall and a nearby park.
Blame Game and Ongoing Violence
Myanmar’s junta blamed anti-coup fighters for the attack on Thursday, but no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.
More than 3,200 civilians have been killed in Myanmar since the military seized power in February 2021, according to a local monitoring group.
The ongoing violence and political instability have prompted widespread concern from the international community, which has called for an end to the violence and a return to democratic governance in Myanmar.