Suspect in Myanmar hotel blast seen on CCTV

Oct 16, 2013, 2:44 AM EDT
Police patrol near the Traders Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 following an explosion just before midnight Monday, which ripped apart a guest's 9th floor bathroom and slightly wounded an American woman in the latest in a series of unexplained blasts to hit the Southeast Asian country.
(AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A man arrested in the Myanmar hotel bombing that injured an American woman had been under surveillance for alleged involvement in the planting of a second device found at a restaurant the next afternoon, police said.

Authorities moved in on Saw Myint Lwin, 26, after matching his photograph with images captured on the Traders Hotel closed circuit television camera, according to a statement issued by Mon state police on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old rode his motorcycle through a barricade set up to apprehend him in Belin township, it said, but police caught up with him following a chase. It was not immediately clear if charges had been filed.

The explosion at Traders Hotel, one of Myanmar's ritziest, occurred in the heart of Yangon. It was the most high-profile in a series of bombings that the government alleges is an attempt to tarnish the image of the budding democracy as it emerges from decades of oppressive military rule.

Officials said the attacks, which reportedly left two dead and several others wounded, appear to be organized, with a restaurant, two bus stops, Buddhist temples and a market all targeted. No one has claimed responsibility.

The homemade time bomb that went off just before midnight Monday at the Traders Hotel was hidden in the bathroom in an American family's room on the ninth floor. There was no indication they had been targeted.

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities safely detonated a bomb found at Western Park restaurant in Yangon.

Saw Myint Lwin was suspected of playing a role in that foiled plot, the Mon state police statement said, without elaborating.

The government speculated the recent bombings were being organized by individuals or groups who want to smear the country's image as it prepares to take leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional grouping in 2014.

It is also hosting the Southeast Asian Games, a showcase sporting event, later this year, noted Ko Ko Hlaing, a political adviser to the president.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday in Washington she could not comment on any motive behind the bombings. She said the embassy released a security message to alert U.S. citizens who reside in or are traveling to the country to the recent bombings.

"While there is no indication at this time that any of these IEDs were specifically directed toward U.S. citizens, the embassy asks that all U.S. citizens exercise an appropriate level of caution," she said.


Associated Press writers Aye Aye Win, Esther Htusan and Todd Pitman contributed to this report.