Western Embassies Warn of Possible Attacks in Myanmar

YANGON, MYANMAR – Canada, Australia and Britain on Friday joined the United States in advising their citizens about possible violent attacks in Myanmar.

An initial warning Wednesday by the U.S. Embassy in Yangon said Myanmar’s security forces are investigating reports of potential attacks in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, on Sept. 26, Oct. 16 and Oct. 26. It said the possibility of attacks extended to coming months in Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s three biggest cities.

There was no explanation of why there might be attacks on those specific dates and no other details were provided. There were no reports that any attack took place Thursday.

The Canadian and British advisories specified that the potential attacks could be bombings.

The Myanmar government has not corroborated this information. No specific measures are recommended at this time, said the statement issued by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

When traveling anywhere in Myanmar, you should monitor the latest developments, continue to remain vigilant, take sensible precautions, avoid large demonstrations or gatherings, and follow the advice of the local security forces, it advised.

Several armed ethnic groups are battling Myanmar’s government for more autonomy, but the fighting usually takes place in their home regions in border areas.

In August, the authorities were caught by surprise by coordinated attacks staged by an ethnic rebel alliance in five locations, including a military academy outside normal combat areas, where a civilian was killed and a soldier wounded.

The Northern Alliance, a coalition of armed groups from the Kokang, Rakhine and Ta-ang, or Palaung, minorities, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Mandalay region, where the Defense Services Technology Academy is located, and in Northern Shan state, where 14 people were reported killed.

Combat in Northern Shan State is not unusual, but attacks in Mandalay region, the country’s heartland, are virtually unprecedented.

The rebel alliance said it launched the attacks in self-defense because the Myanmar military didn’t stop offensive operations in areas where the minorities live.

Since obtaining independence from Britain in 1948, Myanmar has been wracked by fighting with minority groups in border areas seeking greater autonomy from the central government.

In the past three decades, the government has reached various cease-fire arrangements with many groups, but it is striving for a comprehensive, more permanent political solution. Most of the groups have so far rejected the government’s attempts at a settlement, and combat is ongoing in northern and western areas of the country.

The rebel alliance comprises the Kokang minority’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army), and the Arakan Army. The Arakan Army has also been engaged in fierce attacks against government forces in its home ground in Rakhine state.

Source: Voice of America

Posted in General September 27, 2019