MAY 7, 2005
Posted: May 17, 2005
Burma’s military rulers restricted coverage of casualties from bomb blasts at two shopping malls and a trade center in the capital Rangoon. Exiled Burmese news sources reported that the government censored blast-related stories in the local media, while medical workers told international reporters that authorities had forbidden them from speaking about casualties.
“We were ordered not to tell you anything,” a hospital official told Reuters.
Official media have reported that the death toll was 11, but eyewitnesses have estimated much higher fatalities, according to international news reports.
Little is known about the perpetrators of the bomb attack. State media blamed ethnic rebel groups and exiled pro-democracy activists for the bombs, which it said had been hidden in bags and timed to explode five minutes apart. Rebel groups and democracy activists deny the accusations, and some observers speculate that the country’s military leaders themselves or followers of sacked former prime minister Khin Nyunt may be responsible for the attack.
The government’s Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) routinely censors information in local newspapers and radio on incidents such as bombings, pro-democracy activities, natural disasters and economic hardship.