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Dhaka Tribune

Myanmar fighters target military in drone attacks on capital

  • The military's ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi's government in 2021 sparked renewed fighting with ethnic minority armed groups
  • Initial reports suggest casualties, according to statements from the shadow government
Update : 04 Apr 2024, 04:20 PM

Opponents of army rule in Myanmar said on Thursday they carried out drone attacks on two military targets in its capital Naypyitaw, attacks which, if confirmed, would be a major blow to the image of a junta struggling to govern.

Reuters could not independently confirm the information and the military government could not immediately be reached. State-controlled and military-run media outlets carried no news of the reported incident.

The National Unity Government (NUG), an alliance of anti-junta groups formed to challenge military rule in the wake of a 2021 coup, announced coordinated drone attacks on two military installations, but provided no details on the drones or weapons used, or whether the targets sustained any damage.

“The synchronized drone operations were simultaneously executed against Naypyitaw, targeting both the headquarters of the terrorist military and Alar Air Base,” the NUG said in a statement.

If confirmed, the incident could dent the credibility of a well-equipped military that regards itself as the sole protector of Myanmar’s sovereignty, as it faces its biggest test since first taking control of the former British colony in 1962.

Naypyitaw is the seat of power for the military government and home to much of its defense hardware, built in a remote area of central Myanmar about two decades ago by the previous junta that had ruled for more than two decades.

Fierce rebellion

The junta has been fighting on multiple fronts to try to contain uprisings around the country and stabilize an economy that has wilted since the coup.

Myanmar is locked in a civil war between the military on one side and, on the other, a loose alliance of ethnic minority rebels and an armed movement which emerged in response to the junta’s bloody crackdown on anti-coup protests.

The military has been accused by Western governments of systematic atrocities, and excessive use of air strikes and artillery in civilian areas. It has dismissed that as misinformation and says it is targeting “terrorists.”

A spokesperson for the NUG’s armed affiliate in Naypyitaw, the People’s Defense Force (PDF) said it carried out Thursday’s attack under the instruction of the NUG’s defense ministry. It did not provide details of the incident.

Two unofficial, pro-military media outlets, however, said drones were successfully shot down, with no casualties.

NP news, citing an unnamed official, said the drones failed to reach the base but an explosion had occurred, causing some damage at the corner of a runway. A pro-military Telegram channel said seven drones were shot down, without citing sources.

Myanmar’s ruling general Min Aung Hlaing said in a national address last week that the military was holding power only temporarily and called for unity among the people and military to fight armed groups, which he said had foreign backing and were seeking to destroy the country.

Its military-installed president last year said the country was at risk of breaking apart due to the rebellion.

News outlet Mizzima said, without providing a source, that 16 drones were used to attack the military base and 13 were used in an attack on the air force base.

News website the Irrawaddy quoted a spokesperson for the group credited with operating the drones as saying the junta leader’s Naypyitaw residence was also a target, adding “we have plans to do more attacks.”

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