Myanmar Military Regime Accuses Resistance Fighters of Bago Bank Heist

By The Irrawaddy 15 September 2021

Local resistance groups in Bago Region have denied the junta’s accusation that civilian resistance fighters were responsible for the robbery earlier this week of over four billion kyats from AYA Bank vehicles in Indagaw Township.

Junta-controlled newspapers reported that seven men – four in civilian clothes, one disguised as a traffic policeman and two armed men disguised as policemen – held up two AYA bank vehicles on Monday evening on the old Yangon-Mandalay Highway in Indagaw, Bago Region. The men escaped with four billion kyats, after tying up the AYA bank staff and taking their cell phones.

On Tuesday, the military regime said it had captured some of the robbers, who it claimed were members of the Bago People’s Defense Force (PDF), as well as a striking clerk from the AYA Bank in Bago.

Three men and four women – two of them nuns – were arrested in connection with the robbery. The junta claimed that it seized multiple weapons from the suspects, including an M-79 grenade launcher and two AK47 rifles.

The regime accused Ko Myo Ko, the commander of the Bago PDF, of plotting the robbery. He denied the accusation.

“All the people who are rebelling against the military regime have to stay in hiding at this time. Most of the resistance forces in Bago are finding it very difficult even to get back into the town. So it is impossible for them to appear in public at this time,” Ko Myo Ko told The Irrawaddy.

Yoma Tiger, another local resistance force in Bago Region, said that the group has no policy to rob banks and will never target a public place or public property.

“Their [the junta] statements are similar to those issued by successive military dictators in the past. They are waging a psychological war. It was not the PDF’s who exploded bombs near markets, schools and hospitals. It was not the PDF’s who robbed banks,” said an information officer for the group.

Many locals have expressed doubts as to how such a robbery could take place in Indagaw, which is a Myanmar military garrison town that is home to three light infantry battalions under Division 77 and a logistics battalion.

Anti-regime forces say that the robbery was a deliberate attempt by the junta to smear the PDF’s and undermine public confidence in the resistance movement.

Monday’s robbery was the third bank heist since late August, following the robbery of a Global Treasure Bank branch in Yangon’s Mayangone Township on August 30 and of a KBZ Bank branch in Shan State’s Kyaukme on September 7. In July, a Global Treasure Bank branch in Yangon’s South Okkalapa Township was also robbed. The military regime stayed silent in all those cases.

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