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Myanmar junta says drones shot down over capital

April 4, 2024

The attack comes with the ruling military junta fighting battles on several fronts against ethnic insurgents.

The parliament building in Naypyitaw
Naypyitaw is the seat of power for the military government and home to much of its defense hardwareImage: DW

The military junta on Thursday said Myanmar's security services had downed seven drones over the capital Naypyitaw.

A military base was said to be the target of the rare attack, which comes as the ruling military struggles to contain a growing armed resistance movement.

What we know so far

Myanmar's shadow National Unity Government (NUG) said the drones had hit military headquarters and an air force base. It said preliminary reports suggested that there had been casualties.

"The synchronized drone operations were simultaneously executed against Naypyitaw, targeting both the headquarters of the terrorist military and Alar Air Base," the NUG said in a statement.

If confirmed, the attack would dent the credibility of the junta, which is facing its biggest test since it seized control of the former British colony in 1962. Naypyitaw — built in a remote area of central Myanmar — is the junta's seat of power and home to much of its defense hardware.

The NUG account differed from the junta's, which said four drones approached Naypyitaw airport and three others were headed toward the capital's Zayarthiri township.

A statement from the junta's information team said they had been "successfully shot down and destroyed" and that there had been no damage or casualties.

Who is fighting the Myanmar junta?

Former de facto democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi's government was toppled by the military in 2021, and democratic reforms made since 2011 were reversed.

China seeks border stability with Myanmar

Fighting has subsequently flared up between the security forces and ethnic minority armed groups, as well as with pro-democracy "People's Defense Forces" (PDFs).

Myanmar has been dominated by the ethnic Bamar majority since independence. Many ethnic minority groups, such as the Kachin, Karen, Shan, and others, have long-standing grievances about political marginalization, cultural suppression, and discrimination by the junta.

Commercial drones adapted to drop bombs have proved effective for the junta's opponents. The so-called "drop bomb" attacks have displaced troops from positions, hit domestic airports, and killed one brigadier-general near the border with China.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Myanmar's military junta as "the government." This has been changed to consistently read military junta throughout. 

rc/ab (Reuters, AFP)