Myanmar security forces seize arms cache near Mandalay -state media


(Reuters) - Myanmar 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 on Friday.

Since seizing power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, the military 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 more than 100 firearms, 10,000 bullets, 499 grenades, along with bombs and detonators.

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 230,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Myanmar and need 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 after fighting between PDF and the army in Chin State bordering India.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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