Organized Rebel Attacks on Myanmar Military Academy and Nearby Sites Kill Two

By Moe Myint 15 August 2019

YAGNON—A series of organized attacks by an alliance of ethnic armed groups on the Myanmar military’s Defense Service Technological Academy (DSTA) and three additional locations in the garrison town of Pyin Oo Lwin and its surroundings killed two civilians and wounded several others Thursday morning.

It is the first attack in decades on the DSTA.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the academy, in Mandalay Region, was attacked with at least five artillery shells at about 5:40 a.m. Thursday.

“A civilian working for the school was killed and a solider was injured. Parts of the compound were also damaged,” he said.

Mong Aike Kyaw, spokesperson for the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—an ethnic Palaung armed group active in northern Shan State—claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying the assaults were carried out by the TNLA, the Arakan Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, none of which have signed ceasefires with the Union government.

“We have opened a necessary new counteroffensive against the military in Pyin Oo Lwin in order to reduce military pressure in our regions,” he said.

In a recent press release the TNLA said it had engaged in 14 clashes with the Myanmar military in northern Shan State in early August and 20 the previous month, despite the military’s unilaterally declared ceasefire across five regional commands in the area.

The three armed rebel groups recently released a joint statement demanding the Myanmar military stop its offensives in all regions they occupy, saying the consequences of any resultant civil wars would be the sole responsibility of the military.

Naung Cho locals said a toll gate run by the Asia World Company there was set afire by rebel groups at around 5 a.m. Thursday morning. Pictures circulating on social media from the scene show a charred body amid the ruins.

As of Thursday morning, fighting between the military and rebel groups was ongoing on the outskirts of Naung Cho, causing transportation to be shut down between there and Pyin Oo Lwin.

“So far three people have been wounded, two in the head and one on the thigh. We have to send them to Naung Cho Hospital since they can’t be transferred to Pyin Oo Lwin,” he said.