Monday, September 25, 2017

Police boost security after Thai bombing

Yangon police have stepped up security in the wake of last week’s Bangkok bombing, but say there is no evidence to suggest the culprits are in Yangon or planning an attack here.

The regional police force has issued a directive to township stations and officials in charge of major sites, particularly pagodas, to be vigilant about the threat of further bombings.

“We are not sure if the bomber is here … but we have warned the public to be wary and have take security measures to ensure their safety,” said Police Captain Win Bo, deputy head of Yangon Region’s police force.

He said Yangon police had also not been in contact with their counterparts in Thailand about the hunt for the culprits.

The August 17 bombing at Bangkok’s Erawan shrine killed 20 people, including 14 foreigners, and was Thailand’s worst single mass-casualty attack.

Police believe the main suspect, a young man with shaggy hair and a yellow T-shirt who may have been in disguise, was part of a network and was likely foreign.

In Yangon, police have put up posters with images of a suspect wanted in relation to the bombing at a number of sites, including tourist attractions and other “well-known” areas. They are also hunting a man who posted a rumour on social media about a plan to set off a bomb at Shwedagon Pagoda.

Officials in charge of prominent pagodas have introduced additional security measures, but they say they have done so without prompting by police.

“We have not received any information from the police force yet, but we have introduced tight security at the pagoda. We have set up CCTV cameras and are searching for bombs and other dangerous items,” said U Tin Tun Aung, a member of the board of trustees at Botahtaung Pagoda.

During the rainy season, between 100 and 200 foreign tourists visit the pagoda each day, the majority from Thailand, he said, adding that the number had not changed since the bombing.

Meanwhile, at Shwedagon Pagoda, trustees on August 20 put up posters with images of a man suspected of involvement in the Thailand bombing.

The poster gives numbers for Shwedagon security staff and instructs members of the public to call if they think they have seen the man.

Visitors are also being subjected to walk-through X-ray scanners and handheld metal detectors, as well other security precautions.

As at Botahtaung Pagoda, the trustee said the measures were taken independently by trustees and had not been ordered by the government.

“We have a duty to protect people visiting the pagoda,” said a security officer from the Shwedagon Pagoda board of trustees, who asked not to be named.

– With AFP