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Bomb Kills 4 in Rangoon Shrine

                Bomb Kills 4 in Rangoon Shrine 

                  Thursday, December 26, 1996 7:18 am EST 

                  RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- A bomb exploded near a Buddhist shrine
                  popular with pilgrims and leaders of the military regime while
                  investigators were examining damage from a blast two hours
                  Four people were killed. 

                  There were no casualties in the first explosion in the
Maha Pasana
                  cave, where thousands pay homage daily to a relic believed
to be one
                  of Buddha's teeth. 

                  But the second blast Wednesday night killed four people
and injured
                  18. The man-made cave next to the Kaba Aye pagoda, eight
miles north
                  of Rangoon, was filling with pilgrims at the time, the
                  newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported today. 

                  It was not clear how many people were inside. The dead
included a
                  Red Cross worker, a member of the military junta's
security forces and
                  two people in a civilian organization linked to the
                  according to the newspaper. All of the victims were
believed to be

                  A monk and five pilgrims were among the injured, the
newspaper said.

                  Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, third in command of the ruling State Law
and Order
                  Restoration Council, had visited the shrine just three
hours before the
                  first explosion. After the second explosion, the cave was
                  Security was tight today, but worshipers were allowed to
pray 50
                  yards away at the pagoda. 

                  The second bomb was believed to have been hidden in a vase. 

                  No claim of responsibility was mentioned in the newspaper
report, but
                  it said the government blamed ``dastardly, destructive
elements with
                  extremely wicked and ruthless intent to harm the
friendship between
                  China and Myanmar.'' Myanmar is another name for Burma. 

                  China, Burma's closet ally and chief supplier of weapons,
lent the tooth
                  relic to Burma. Security was stepped up today around the
                  ambassador's home and official Chinese offices. 

                  Burmese government officials were not available for
comment. The
                  newspaper's language was similar to that usually used to
                  pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party and alleged
                  communist guerrillas that the regime blames for whipping
up student

                  Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent
                  democracy campaign, and her supporters eschew violence. The
                  communist party in Burma disintegrated in 1989. 

                  The government has cracked down this month on student
                  demanding more civil liberties. The student demonstrations
marked the
                  biggest street unrest since the regime gunned down
thousands of
                  pro-democracy marchers in 1988. 

                  The Chinese Embassy issued a statement condemning ``this

                  ``The bomb attacks on the sacred shrine killing and
injuring                   the
                  innocent people blaspheme the Buddha and go against the
will                   of the
                  people,'' the statement read. 

                  The tooth was not damaged, New Light of Myanmar said. It
is                   believed
                  to be one of two teeth remaining since the Buddha's death
2,500 years

                  When the tooth arrived in Burma on Dec. 6, it was taken to
the                   cave in
                  a chariot drawn by an elephant replete with regalia in the
style of
                  Burma's ancient kingdom. 

                  Those killed Wednesday were not identified beyond their
ties                   with the
                  government and, in one case, the Red Cross. The
international                   Red
                  Cross pulled out of Burma in 1995 because it was being
denied                   access
                  to political prisoners. 

                  The bombing was the first reported in Burma since July 3,
when                   a
                  bomb exploded in a park near the U.S. Embassy beneath a
                  denouncing Burma's pro-democracy movement. No one was injured.
                  State media blamed ``destructionists,'' a term used to
refer                   to Suu Kyi's