2 dead, several wounded in bomb blast in Thai-Myanmar border town

BANGKOK (AP) — A bomb exploded in a crowded market in a Myanmar border town, killing at least two people and wounding at least eight others, an official said.

The blast occurred Friday evening in the town of Myawaddy, across a river from Thailand, according to the Mizzima news agency, run by Myanmar exiles in Thailand. The explosive was believed thrown from a vehicle into the night bazaar.

An official in Yangon, Myanmar, who demanded anonymity since he was not allowed to speak to the press, confirmed that two persons had died and at least eight others were injured.

The area was cordoned off immediately after the blast and victims were taken to hospitals.

It was unclear whether the attack was related to fighting between Myanmar's military and the ethnic minority Karen, who are seeking an independent state, or criminal activities.

The town is a center for both a vigorous illegal cross-border trade and smuggling of goods, drugs and people, mainly laborers seeking employment in Thailand.

Several bomb blasts have rocked Myanmar this year, including three blasts in Yangon that killed nine people and wounded 170. The incidents come as the ruling junta prepares for a general election that opponents have called unfair and undemocratic.