Myanmar capital military base attacked by drones

Myanmar capital military base attacked by drones

Opponents of junta claim responsibility, military says 13 drones shot down and no damage caused

A military checkpoint is seen on the way to the congress compound in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital city built by the military. (File photo: Reuters)
A military checkpoint is seen on the way to the congress compound in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital city built by the military. (File photo: Reuters)

Opponents of army rule in Myanmar said on Thursday that they carried out drone attacks on two military targets in the capital Nay Pyi Taw. The military junta said 13 drones were shot down and no damage was caused.

The shadow National Unity Government (NUG) said “simultaneously executed and synchronised drone operations” were carried out on the headquarters of the “terrorist military” and Alar Air Base.

A spokesperson for the pro-democracy People’s Defence Forces (PDF) said it carried out Thursday’s attacks at the instruction of the NUG defence ministry. It did not provide details.

The drone attack sought to show the military that its generals have nowhere to hide, an official from the NUG said.

“This is a time when the junta is forcing conscription and causing fear for the people. This attack on their nerve centre, Nay Pyi Taw, we want to highlight that they don’t have a safe place,” NUG spokesperson Kyaw Zaw said, without specifying whether targets had been hit.

Military-run Myawaddy TV said 13 fixed-wing drones were shot down over the capital, in a foiled attack by “terrorists” seeking to destroy important locations in the cityy.

Of the 13 drones, four carried explosives but no damage or casualties were inflicted, the report said. It did not mention what the targets were but carried an image showing nine small drones, several of which were damaged.

The pro-military media outlet NP News, citing an unnamed official, said the drones failed to reach the air base but an explosion had occurred, causing some damage at the corner of a runway. A pro-military Telegram channel said seven drones were shot down, without citing sources.

The news outlet Mizzima said, without providing a source, that 16 drones were used to attack the military base and 13 were used in an attack on the air force base.

The news website The Irrawaddy quoted a spokesperson for the group credited with operating the drones as saying the junta leader’s Nay Pyi Taw residence was also a target, adding “we have plans to do more attacks”.

Reuters could not verify the reports.

The military’s ouster of the civilian government in 2021 has led to widespread fighting with armed ethnic minority groups, as well as with PDF units in many parts of the country. However, incidents in Nay Pyi Taw have been rare.

Nay Pyi Taw is the seat of power for the military government and home to much of its defence hardware, built in a remote area of central Myanmar about two decades ago by the previous junta that had ruled for more than two decades.

The junta has been fighting on multiple fronts to try to contain uprisings around the country and stabilise an economy that has wilted since the coup.

The military has been accused by Western governments of systematic atrocities, and excessive use of air strikes and artillery in civilian areas. It has dismissed that as misinformation and says it is targeting “terrorists”.

More than 2.3 million people have been displaced since unrest broke out in the wake of the coup, according to the United Nations.

Myanmar’s ruling general Min Aung Hlaing said in a national address last week that the military was holding power only temporarily and called for unity among the people and military to fight armed groups, which he said had foreign backing and were seeking to destroy the country.

Last month he repeated that the regime plans to hold elections if there is peace and stability in the country.

The junta has repeatedly extended emergency rule every six months, citing the need to stabilise the country and crush its opponents.

Critics and Western countries have said Myanmar's election would be a sham, with more than 40 parties dissolved since the coup and prohibitive rules making it difficult for new ones to form or challenge proxies of the military.  

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