Two Myanmar airbases attacked amid anti-coup protests: Reports
Two Myanmar airbases have come under attack, with blasts reported at one base and rocket fire seen at another, media and a witness said.
The attacks, carried out by unidentified attackers on Thursday, come after three months of turmoil in Myanmar triggered by a February 1 military coup. There was no claim of responsibility or any confirmation of casualties in the attacks.
The military has not responded to requests for comments.
In the first attack on Thursday, there were three blasts at an airbase near the central town of Magway in the early hours, the Delta News Agency reported in a post on Facebook.
Security checks were stepped up on roads outside the base after the blasts, the news portal said.
Later, five rockets were fired at one of the country’s main airbases, at Meiktila, to the northeast of Magway, reporter Than Win Hlaing, who was near the base at the time, said in a post.
He also posted a video clip that included the sound of what appeared to be a rocket flying overhead followed by a blast. The video clip could not be independently verified.
There have also been reports of the government forces launching fresh attacks on Thursday against ethnic rebels in Karen and Kachin states, according to AFP news agency.
The Karen National Union (KNU), one of the most prominent, has been among the military government’s most vocal opponents – blasting the coup leaders for violence against anti-coup protesters.
Clashes with the military in KNU’s territory along the eastern border have increased since the February coup, with the military government deploying air assaults last month – the first instance in Karen state in more than 20 years.
While the armed forces have been battling rebels in frontier regions for decades, attacks on such high-profile military facilities in central areas have been rare.
Since the removal of an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy protests have rocked cities and towns, and the military has cracked down with lethal force, killing 756 people, according to an activist group. The death toll could not be verified.
Protests also continue across the country, with reports of demonstrations in the Sagaing region as well as in Hpakant township in Kachin State.
A social media post by The Irrawaddy news publication also showed marchers taking to the streets in Mandalay to demand the restoration of democracy in the country.
The unrest comes as hope fades for a bid by Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbours to find a path out of the crisis.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a meeting on Saturday in the Indonesian capital with the military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and later said they had reached a “five-point consensus” on steps to end violence and promote dialogue between the generals and their civilian rivals.
But the military rulers have declined to accept the proposals, saying they would consider them “when the situation returns to stability” and provided the recommendations facilitated the military’s own road map.
Myanmar’s pro-democracy unity government, formed to oppose the military government, ruled out talks on the crisis until all political prisoners are released.
In an indication of the military’s determination to crush dissent, state television announced late on Wednesday that authorities were seeking to charge one of the main leaders of the pro-democracy protests with murder and treason.
Wai Moe Naing, 25, was arrested on April 15 when security men rammed him with a car as he led a motorbike protest rally in the central town of Monywa.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that Wai Moe Naing’s group was linked to several explosions of “homemade grenades” in Monywa.
“In addition, they also tortured and brutally killed two police officers … on March 26,” the newspaper said.
It is unclear if Wai Moe Naing has a lawyer.