Mine blast kills 2 pro-junta militia members in Sagaing region

A local People’s Defense Force carried out the attack to stop a pre-election census.
By RFA Burmese
2023.01.23
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Mine blast kills 2 pro-junta militia members in Sagaing region Members of the Red Eagle People’s Defense Force place mines under the seat of a motorcycle ahead of Saturday’s attack on an administration office in Zee Kone village, Kanbalu township, Sagaing region in a photograph taken on Jan. 19, 2023.
Facebook: Red Eagle

A grenade and mine attack by the Red Eagle anti-junta group killed two Pyu Saw Htee militia members and injured another in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, the group told RFA.

Saturday’s attack on an administration office in Kanbalu township’s Zee Kone village was aimed at stopping the junta compiling voter lists ahead of a planned general election, a spokesman said.

“It was done to prevent the door-to-door collection of household lists,” said the Red Eagle member who didn’t want to be named for security reasons. “We threw a grenade at the office to bring them to where the mine was planted, and detonated it. Three of them were injured in the blast. Two of the injured died the next day.”

Junta troops guarding the office fired back but no Red Eagle members were hit, the group said.

Red Eagle Mines.jpg
Mines used by the Red Eagle People’s Defense Force. Credit: Facebook: Red Eagle

Sagaing region’s junta spokesman and social affairs minister Aye Hlaing told RFA he hadn’t heard about the incident. He said the household census was being conducted for the public’s benefit.

“Conducting the population census on the ground is focused on issuing smart cards to the people later. If these [lists] are correct, the ballots will also be correct. It is working for the people,'' he said.

The junta has been compiling voter lists since Jan. 9 and says it plans to hold an election under the proportional representation system. Although it hasn’t announced a date, the 2008 constitution stipulates that elections must be held within six months of the second anniversary of any state of emergency.

Since the beginning of the year, the National League for Democracy and the National Unity Government, overthrown by the military on Feb. 1, 2021, have repeated their insistence that the junta respect the results of the 2020 election, which the NLD won by a landslide.

Some of Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic armed groups, including the Karen National Union, have also refused to support any election that doesn’t include all political parties, saying they also oppose the census.

Figures compiled by RFA show there were 28 attacks on census groups and general administration offices between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23. Seven people, including police officers and a district administrator were killed.

On Friday night, three junta members were injured in a landmine attack on a general administration office in Bago region, where the census was being compiled, according to a local People’s Defense Force.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Monday that 13 township and district election commission offices across the country had been damaged in attacks by anti-junta groups.

Speaking at the first coordination meeting for the census in Naypyidaw on Friday, State Administration Council Vice Chairman, Vice-Senior Gen. Soe Win, said that since the last national census was conducted in 2014 the next must be carried out by 2024 even if there is no election this year.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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