YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Three explosions rocked Myanmar’s capital on Saturday, killing 11 people and wounding 162 others in the latest bombings blamed on ethnic rebels in the military-ruled country.

The blasts occurred in rapid succession at a convention center and two bustling supermarkets in neighborhoods across the city of 5 million people starting around mid-afternoon. It was not immediately known how many people died at each site.

State television said several ethnic rebel groups, including the Karen National Union and the Shan State Army, were behind the attacks. It called the perpetrators “terrorists” who were trying to disrupt “stability and tranquility.”

TV footage of the bombing sites showed storefronts littered with rubble and broken glass and floors splattered with blood along with a public advisory urging Yangon residents to remain alert for further violence.

Authorities shut down markets across Yangon over security concerns after the blasts, which came less than two weeks after a purported rebel bombing at a market in the northern city of Mandalay that killed two women and wounded 15 other people.

The first bomb on Saturday blew up at an exhibition hall where a Thai trade fair was under way, killing three people from Myanmar, including a Buddhist monk, and wounding many others, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

Myanmar officials are often reluctant to speak on the record for fear of being reprimanded by the country’s secretive military regime.

Some Thais attending the convention were hurt when people rushed to escape the hall following the blast, which blew out windows as high as the second floor of the building.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra instructed Thai citizens in Yangon to move to safe areas or to go to the Thai Embassy to await a military flight scheduled to arrive from Bangkok on Sunday to evacuate them. But a Thai diplomat in Yangon said the plan applied only to Thais who attended the trade fair.

The second explosion tore through a City Mart supermarket in northern Yangon, wounding several people and wrecking the store’s exterior. Soldiers moved in to guard the area while smoke poured out of the ground-floor supermarket.

The final explosion struck northwestern Yangon’s Dagon shopping center at about 3 p.m., wounding many people.

“I heard a loud explosion and saw several sales girls in their gray and light yellow uniforms rushing out of the City Mart with blood streaming down from their faces,” said Hla Hla, a 32-year-old resident who arrived there minutes after the blast.

Large window panes were blown out and appliances from the store’s shelves were scattered amid debris on the ground floor of the 11-story building, while black smoke billowed out from the supermarket, residents said.

Security forces blocked off the main roads in the area, while riot police with batons and shields stood guard and tried to shoo away residents, warning them that there could be more explosions.

“We managed to escape, but some of my friends were hurt,” a saleswoman said, crying.

More than a dozen people wounded in the blast were taken to the city’s Yangon General Hospital, where ambulances arrived with bloodied victims and anxious relatives waited for news of their kin.

In one of the hospital’s wards, dozens of the wounded were seen with severe burns, head wounds or lying unconscious and covered with blood.

The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962. The current regime took power in 1988 after brutally crushing a pro-democracy uprising. It keeps tight control over the population and anti-government violence is unusual, often bringing severe punishment.

The junta also blamed the April 26 bombing of the market in Mandalay on unidentified rebels and state media reported several other rebel attacks last month.

Myanmar has more than a dozen ethnic rebel groups, but most have signed cease-fire accords with the junta. The Karen rebel group, which has sought autonomy in eastern Myanmar for more than half a century in what is one of the world’s longest-running insurgencies, is the largest major ethnic group that hasn’t signed such an agreement.


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