Blasts target seven KBZ Bank branches in Mandalay

Seven branches of the privately-owned KBZ Bank were bombed at locations around Mandalay overnight on Thursday, according to local sources.

Explosions were reported throughout the city’s downtown core, including at three intersections on Thatepan Road, as well as on 62nd Street, 73rd Street, the corner of Manawhari Road and 57th Street, and the corner of 38th Street and 84th Street.

Myanmar’s coup regime has not released a statement regarding the bombings, and so far no group has claimed responsibility for carrying out the attacks. A spokesperson for KBZ Bank could not be reached for comment.

The blasts come amid growing concerns that the country’s private banks have begun to cooperate with the junta, which has been pressuring them to disclose information about customers in a bid to track down financing of anti-regime activities.

“I think KBZ became a target because it is believed that they have been sharing information about those suspected of donating money to support the revolution, and also freezing accounts used for this purpose,” said one local resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to a member of a Mandalay-based social welfare organization, a number of accounts that have used KBZ Pay, the bank’s online payment system, to transfer funds to civil servants taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement are known to have been suspended.

“Even accounts not related to the revolution, such as those used to support Covid-19 prevention projects, have been frozen,” he said, noting that armed resistance groups have also received funding in this way.

The attacks in Mandalay come less than a week after a KBZ Bank branch in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township was robbed last Friday by unknown assailants.

On Wednesday, the regime released a statement claiming that it had arrested the perpetrators.

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