Parcel bomb explosion at wedding of known nationalist kills bride and two relatives

A parcel bomb exploded at a wedding in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township on Tuesday, killing the bride and two relatives of the bridegroom, who sources say is connected to multiple far-right nationalist groups.

The bomb went off at around 1pm at the home of groom Chit Min Thu shortly after the couple offered alms to monks who were also known to be involved in the nationalist movement. Eight people who attended the wedding were also injured in the bomb attack, according to a family member of a wounded guest.

The three people killed in the bomb attack were the bride, Win Pa Pa; Zaw Win Aung, the 19-year-old cousin of the groom; and 21-year-old Chit Hmu Thae Khaing, a distant relative of the groom. 

Those injured in the attack include Zaw Win Aung’s 25-year-old brother Wai Yan Moe, as well as a 16-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. They are undergoing treatment at the Thingangyun Sanpya Hospital, according to a relative.

Chit Min Thu is seen holding a picture of coup leader Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing at a pro-military rally in Yangon on December 28, 2020 (Myanmar Now)

The groom, Chit Min Thu, had participated in pro-army protests and activities led and organised by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the Yeomanry Development Party (YDP), founded by notorious far-right nationalist Michael Kyaw Myint. 

U Pyinnyarwuntha, a central executive committee member of the ultranationalist Patriotic Monks Union who was among the monks who accepted alms from the couple on their wedding day, confirmed the groom’s pro-military leanings to Myanmar Now. The monks’ union was part of the infamous anti-Muslim patriotic association of Myanmar—better known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha—which was disbanded in 2017.

“He is someone who is very nationalistic,” Pyinnyarwuntha said of Chin Min Thu. 

The bomb went off after the monks had left the ceremony. 

When news of the attack spread online, netizens speculated that the groom was a member of the USDP and the YDP, which Pyinnyarwuntha would not confirm.

“He works in nationalist movements. I do not know about his involvement in [political] parties though he might have participated in pro-military rallies organised by Michael Kyaw Myint’s party,” he said.

Moe Moe Khaing, a senior party executive in the YDP, also wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday that the groom had “actively” participated in pro-military and nationalist rallies. 

Chit Min Thu, pictured in a white shirt, is seen with Moe Moe Khaing, a senior executive of the Yeomanry Development Party (YDP) founded by the notorious far-right nationalist Michael Kyaw Myint, outside the Kyauktada police station in Yangon in January

Few of Myanmar’s most well-known nationalists attended Chit Min Thu’s wedding, though around 100 of their allies had initially planned to come, according to Pyinnyarwuntha. Many instead chose to attend the funeral of a mother of another nationalist group member at Yangon’s Yayway cemetery, he added. 

Pyinnyarwuntha said he joined them at the cemetery after the wedding. 

“We heard about the bomb attack after we arrived at the Yayway Cemetery. I feel very sorry,” the monk said.

Despite the groom’s involvement in the nationalist movement, his family members are not involved in political activities, Pyinnyarwuntha told Myanmar Now. The groom’s slain cousin, Zaw Win Aung, worked in a charity and had joined anti-coup protests in Yangon.

“I am very sad that I lost a brother. But I have to accept that this is fate. Everything that happens is fate,” Zaw Win Aung’s brother Wathan said.

“It is so much a part of his fate that he was killed even though he was one of the last people who arrived at the wedding,” he added.

Details of the bomb attack and the motives behind it were still unknown at the time of reporting.

Groom Chit Min Thu and bride Win Pa Pa 

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup that deposed the National League for Democracy-led civilian government, with the military using excessive and lethal force to crush the anti-coup movement across the country.

Many pro-military individuals, including USDP members and their allies, have been accused of being informants—known as dalan in Burmese—for tipping off regime authorities with information about pro-democracy activities and whereabouts of the activists. The ward administrators who are loyal to the coup regime and their offices have also been targeted in bomb and arson attacks and shootings in many towns and cities across the country.

The regime describes those incidents and anti-military acts as “terrorism” and pro-democracy activists as “terrorists” in its state propaganda newspapers.

Pyinnyarwuntha, a member of the Patriotic Monks Union, an ultranationalist group, is seen in front of the Insein prison confronting police officers in 2020. The nationalistic monk received alms at Chit Min Thu’s wedding (Myanmar Now)

Echoing the sentiments of the coup regime, Pyinnyarwuntha said he also believed the bomb attack at the wedding was perpetrated by “terrorists.” 

According to photos shared widely on Facebook, he was one of the at least four monks who vandalised cars that blocked Yangon’s traffic on February 18 as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement against military rule. The monks used metal batons to smash the car windows; one driver was injured in the attack.

In June 2020, Pyinnyarwuntha was sentenced to one year in prison for incitement for joining an anti-government protest in Yangon in 2017. He was also charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law and fined 10,000 kyat for physically assaulting police officers during a rally supporting the formerly detained far-right monk Wirathu in January this year.

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