Security forces seize arms cache

Strong sentiments: Protesters holding flares as they take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay in this photo released via Facebook. — AFP

Security forces seized a large cache of weapons on a truck bound for Mandalay this week, after arresting insurgents following a firefight in the country’s second biggest city, state media reported.

Since seizing power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, the junta has sought to stamp out dissent and killed or arrested hundreds of protesters.

Opponents of the coup have responded by forming militias though they have generally been lightly armed with attacks focused in rural areas or smaller cities.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper carried a photograph of four arrested people in front of a weapons cache.

It reported security forces had seized a six-wheeled vehicle carrying weapons of more than 100 firearms, 10,000 bullets, 499 grenades, along with bombs and detonators.

According to the testimonies of the arrestees, they took part in a basic military training course by an ethnic armed organisation and the six-wheeled vehicle with weapons on board was transported under the arrangement by a member of the ethnic armed organisation.

The report said arrested members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), the armed wing of the National Unity Government opposed to military rule, had confessed to receiving training and obtaining the arms from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of a string of ethnic armed groups fighting the army in border areas.

The newspaper said the arrests were made after a clash with the newly formed Mandalay PDF on Tuesday in which it said eight militia members were killed and eight detained.

Spokespersons for the Mandalay PDF and the KIA did not answer calls seeking comment. The Manadalay PDF was quoted by the Khit Thit news portal on Thursday as denying that one of its members Tun Tauk Naing, named in the state media report, had been arrested.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Thursday estimated that 230,000 people had been displaced by fighting in Myanmar and were in need of assistance.

It said 177,000 people were displaced in Karen state bordering Thailand, including 103,000 in the past month, while more than 20,000 people were sheltering at 100 displacement areas amid fighting between PDF and the army in Chin State bordering India. — Agencies

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