| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Myanmar air strikes reported in battle, internet cut in more areas

According to media and a militia member, Myanmar’s military started air attacks over the weekend after battles with anti-junta rebels in the Sagaing region, while phone connections and the internet were also cut in certain districts.

The army seized power on Feb. 1, ending a decade of timid moves toward democracy and sparking uproar at home and abroad, as well as the formation of People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) to combat the military.

The air strikes occurred when the army mounted an operation in the Pinlebu area of Sagaing in northwest Myanmar, according to the DVB news portal, which cited residents who heard aircraft and explosions on Saturday night before phone connections and the internet went down.

A member of the Pinlebu PDF, speaking from outside the area, confirmed that air strikes had occurred, but claimed that his organization had suffered no losses.

The activist, who did not want to be recognized, added of his opposition colleagues, “We can’t contact them due to the internet and phone lines outage.”

Reuters could not independently verify any of the claims and a spokesman for the military did not answer calls seeking comment.

The National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow administration set up by ousted lawmakers and others opposed to the junta, said an arms cache including a rocket propelled grenade, small arms and shells had been seized in the fighting. It said more than 25 government soldiers had been killed.

There has been an upsurge in bloodshed in areas like Sagaing after the underground NUG declared an uprising on Sept. 7 and called on PDFs to target the junta and its assets.

Earlier in the conflict, the military had at times shut down the internet, particularly in cities, in a bid to curb demonstrations.

Since Thursday, the military had cut internet access in 11 conflict-hit districts in Chin State and in the Magway region, the Myanmar Now news portal reported, citing residents and members of PDFs.

Thousands of people fled the town of Thantlang in Chin State, which borders India, last week after rioting in which a Christian pastor was slain.

Some militia groups have also claimed responsibility for detonating bombs at a number of Mytel telecommunications towers, which is partly controlled by the army.

In a report released last week, the U.S.-based democracy watchdog Freedom House said that after the coup, internet freedom in Myanmar fell by 14 points, the greatest annual loss ever recorded on its 100-point scale.

  • Reuters