Mine blast kills 2 pro-junta militiamen in Sagaing region

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A grenade and mine attack by the anti-junta group Red Eagle killed two members of the Pyu Saw Htee militia and wounded another in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region, the group told RFA.

Saturday’s attack on an administrative office in Zee Kone village in Kanbalu municipality was aimed at stopping the junta from compiling voter rolls ahead of scheduled general elections, a spokesman said.

“It was done to prevent door-to-door collection of household lists,” said the Red Eagle member, who declined to be named for security reasons. “We threw a grenade at the office to take them to where the mine was planted, and detonated it. Three of them were injured in the blast. Two of the injured died the next day.”

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Junta troops guarding the office returned fire, but no Red Eagle members were hit, the group said.

Mines used by the Red Eagle People’s Defense Force. Credit: Facebook: Red Eagle

Sagaing junta spokesman and Social Welfare Minister Aye Hlaing told RFA he had not heard about the incident. He said the census was conducted for the benefit of the public.

“Conducting the census on the ground is aimed at later issuing smart cards to the people. If this [lists] are correct, the ballots will also be correct. It works for the people,” he said.

The junta has been compiling voter lists since January 9 and says it intends to hold elections under the system of proportional representation. Although no date has been announced, the 2008 constitution stipulates that elections must be held within six months of the second anniversary of the state of emergency.

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Since the beginning of the year, the National League for Democracy and the Government of National Unity, which was overthrown by the military on February 1, 2021, have repeatedly urged the junta to respect the results of the 2020 election, which the NLD won with a landslide.

Some of Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic armed groups, including the Karen National Union, have also refused to support elections that do not involve all political parties, saying they also oppose the census.

Figures compiled by RFA show that between 9 and 23 January there were 28 attacks on census and general administration offices. Seven people, including police officers and a district administrator, were killed.

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According to a local People’s Defense Force, three junta members were injured Friday night in a landmine attack on a general administration office in the Bago region, where the census was held.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Monday that 13 offices of election commissions in townships and districts across the country had been damaged by attacks by anti-junta groups.

Speaking at the first census coordination meeting in Naypyidaw on Friday, Vice Chairman of the Governing Council, Deputy Senior General Soe Win, said that since the last national census was conducted in 2014, the next one should be held by 2024, even if there are is no election this year.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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