An off-take station of the China-backed oil and gas pipelines was damaged when a local resistance group attacked regime forces guarding the facility in Mandalay Region’s Natogyi Township early on Monday.
At around 2 a.m., the Natogyi-People’s Defense Force (NPDF) used two rifle grenades to attack 13 regime personnel providing security for the off-take station.
The station is located 6 km east of the town of Natogyi.
During the attack, the wall of the off-take station was damaged after being hit by an explosive, said Ko Twantay, NPDF spokesperson and Myingyan District-PDF Battalion 4 commander.
The NPDF said it believed the Myanmar military suffered casualties in the attack.
“We just targeted the regime forces, not the pipeline station,” Ko Twantay told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
The NPDF said it had to attack the regime forces based at the off-take station, as they have become notorious for persecuting and looting civilians during their operations in the area.
The oil and gas pipelines, which run from the Rakhine coast to southern China, were constructed in 2011 and began operation in July 2013.
The 973-km pipelines pass through Magwe and Mandalay regions and Shan State to China’s Yunnan Province.
Following the PDF attack, the regime tightened security in Natogyi town, bringing in reinforcements from nearby townships.
Regime forces arrested nearly a dozen people in the town on Monday and Tuesday, including some with links to the National League for Democracy (NLD), a Natogyi resident told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
On Sunday evening, two regime personnel were killed when Natogyi-PDF members ambushed a regime motorbike patrol in the township.
Anti-Chinese sentiment swelled in Myanmar following the military coup last February, with many people believing Beijing had a hand in the takeover. At that time, there were calls for a boycott of Chinese products, along with calls to blow up the pipelines if China refused to condemn the regime.
The calls prompted China to urge the regime to increase security for the pipelines. Since March last year, the regime has assigned extra forces to protect them.
In May last year, three regime troops guarding the pipelines in Sintgaing Township, Mandalay Region were slashed to death by unidentified attackers.
In the wake of intensifying civilian armed resistance against the military regime, China has urged Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government to ensure the resistance movement does not harm Chinese investments in the country.
The request came after a local resistance group attacked electricity pylons supplying the China-backed Tagaung Taung nickel-processing plant in Sagaing’s Tigyaing Township in early January.
The junta is facing daily intense attacks from PDFs and many ethnic armed groups across the country. Its forces are reportedly suffering heavy losses in the attacks.
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