Myanmar anti-coup forces claim ‘success’ in Naypyidaw drone attack

About 30 drones were used in the attack on the remote capital, the stronghold of the military regime.

A view of a wide road in Naypyidaw. There is a monument to General Aung San at the end. A couple of cars are on the road.
Naypyidaw was built in secret by a previous military regime [AFP]

Myanmar’s anti-coup forces have launched an unprecedented drone attack on military targets in Naypyidaw, the remote capital built in secret by a previous military regime.

The National Unity Government (NUG), which includes elected politicians removed from office in the February 2021 coup, said its People’s Defence Force carried out a synchronised, coordinated attack on Thursday on key targets in the city, a stronghold of the armed forces.

“This was a success. This drone attack was long-range and a stronger attack than normal. We have plans to do more,” NUG spokesperson Kyaw Zaw said, without specifying whether targets had been hit.

“This is a time when the junta is forcing conscription and causing fear for the people. With this attack on their nerve centre, Naypyidaw, we want to highlight that they don’t have a safe place.”

The military regime acknowledged the attack and said it destroyed or seized more than a dozen drones.

Military-run Myawaddy TV said 13 fixed-wing drones were shot down and there were no casualties or damage to property.

It said the foiled attack by “terrorists” sought to destroy important locations in Naypyidaw.

Min Aung Hlaing stands on the back of an open-topped military vehicle during Wednesday night's parade.
The military marked Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw just two weeks ago [AFP]

Myawaddy did not mention what the targets were but broadcast an image showing nine small drones, several of which were damaged. Of the 13 drones, four carried explosives, the report said.

Myanmar was plunged into crisis when Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, claiming without evidence that there had been widespread fraud in the election that returned her to office in a landslide.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest and when the military responded with brutal force, some civilians took up arms, joining forces with ethnic armed groups that had been fighting the military for decades.

The military, which is under Western sanctions but has support from Russia, has come under intense pressure since the end of October last year when a powerful coalition of anti-coup armed groups, launched a surprise offensive taking control of multiple military outposts and key towns in the north and west.

More than 2.8 million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting, while more than 18 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

‘Big step forward’

In an interview uploaded on the NUG’s media channel late on Thursday, a senior official said the home of Min Aung Hlaing had been targeted in the attack which used 30 drones. Military headquarters and the city’s airbase were also targeted.

“They have spent millions of dollars on a complex defence system, including air defences. It is the place where the military council assumed no attack could happen,” said permanent secretary Naing Htoo Aung.

“That this three-year-old defence force was able to attack that kind of place shows a big step forward in the revolution.”


The NUG said there were reports of casualties. Khit Thit, an online news service sympathetic to the resistance, said the airport was shut down for a while after the attacks.

Resistance group Kloud Team (Shar Htoo Waw), which specialises in drone warfare, is frequently employed by PDF units, which lack the army’s heavy firepower.

Initially, smaller drones with lighter payloads were used, but now the opposition groups are using more sophisticated systems to drop explosives on military targets. Anti-coup groups frequently post videos on social media of their drone attacks.

The military has been accused of widespread human rights abuses including repeated air attacks on civilians, and burning down villages.

On Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that for the first time called for UN members states to refrain from the export, sale or transfer of jet fuel to Myanmar.

“In a violent, worsening trend that continues up to this very week, air strikes have pulverized homes, devastated communities and caused mass internal displacement,” Montse Ferrer, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for research, said in a statement. “More than three years after the coup, escalating conflict in Myanmar puts even greater urgency on the need to stop the flow of aviation fuel to the military, which increasingly relies on air power to carry out strikes that are in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws.”

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says the military has killed at least 4,849 civilians since the coup, and arrested 20,304 people.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to decades in prison after being convicted in secretive military courts on charges widely condemned as politically motivated.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies