Early on Saturday, February 24 (local time), three bombs exploded in Sittwe (Rakhine state), leaving at least one person wounded. The bombs were reportedly placed near the residence of a state government secretary, the high court, and a land record office; local police reported that three other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in the city. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings.
Police had cordoned off some roads in the city following the bombings, and Burmese authorities had launched an associated investigation. It is unclear when the roadblocks will be lifted. Additional bombing attacks are possible in Sittwe in the coming weeks amid the expected continuation of high intercommunal tensions and the related humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state.
Rakhine state has suffered waves of sectarian and other intercommunal violence in recent months amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting the Rohingya ethnic group. On January 22, security officials in Rakhine state announced the deployment of additional security measures in response to the violent protests and clashes between Rakhine Buddhist demonstrators and security forces that took place in Mrauk U on January 16. According to local sources, at least 400 police officers were deployed in and around Sittwe, including in the town of Mrauk U.
Some 688,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar's Rakhine state amid an army crackdown on the Rohingya community that began following an attack on Burmese security forces in August 2017, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UN has established a fact-finding mission to investigate crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the military during the counteroffensive. The persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar has drawn international criticism for alleged human rights violations; the UN has called the military operations a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
Individuals in Sittwe and surrounding areas in Rakhine state are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for potential militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Due to poor security conditions, some Western governments and Myanmar authorities advise their citizens against nonessential travel to Rakhine state - with the exception of the southern townships of Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Munaung, Toungup, Thandwe (including the tourist resort of Ngapali), and Gwa - as well as the Bangladeshi border.