UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL
By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA) - A rebel group has attacked a military academy near Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, the military said Thursday.
The Defense Services Technology Academy (DSTA), located in Pyin Oo Lwin, a scenic hill town in the Mandalay Region, was hit by five heavy artillery or motor shells early this morning, said spokesman Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun.
The attack, the first-ever on the academy, “killed a civilian and wounded a soldier in the academy compound,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone.
A statement issued by the Military True News Information Team later on Thursday said members of the Northern Alliance -- a collation of Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan (Rakhine) Army, and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army -- carried out joint attacks in five locations, including the academy and a police station.
Though the military statement did not give details on the casualties, Eleven Media, a leading local newspaper, said at least 12 people -- two civilians, seven soldiers, and three police officers -- were killed in the attacks.
The paper added that the rebels, after attacking the police station, blew up a bridge vital to the Myanmar-China border trade on a highway connecting Mandalay and the border town of Muse.
A military statement said the attacks were likely in response to a recent military raid on drug factories in Shan State’s Kutkai township which seized $10.6 million worth of illegal drugs, ingredients, and equipment used to produce them.
The Northern Alliance, however, denied any involvement in the drug trade.
“The attacks are in response to the growing military offensives in our area,” alliance spokesman Mai Aeik Kyaw told Anadolu Agency by phone.
The groups last week issued a joint statement demanding the military stop offensives again their members in Shan and western Rakhine state.
Despite the military’s unilateral cease-fire in five regions countrywide, Mai Aeik Kyaw said the alliance engaged in 14 clashes with the military in August and 20 in July.