Myanmar anti-coup protesters attack more cell towers

Last week, anti-coup protesters targeted 11 communications towers belonging to the military-owned Mytel
Last week, anti-coup protesters targeted 11 communications towers belonging to the military-owned Mytel Handout MYAELATT ATHAN/AFP
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Bangkok (AFP)

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar said Wednesday they had destroyed four military-owned communications towers over the last week, as demonstrators step up attacks on government infrastructure.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi's government in February, sparking huge democracy protests and a bloody junta crackdown.

Since last Thursday anti-junta fighters have destroyed four communications towers belonging to the military-owned Mytel in western Chin state, according to a spokesperson for the "Zoland People's Defence Force."

The continuing bloodshed has pushed some in the anti-coup movement to form such defence forces in their townships -- made up of civilians who fight back against security forces, often with homemade weapons.

The attacks on the towers, near the town of Tedim, around 20 kilometres from the India border, were to "block the SAC from their money source," the spokesperson said, using an acronym for the State Administration Council -- as the junta calls itself.

Local media also reported several towers belonging to Mytel -- one of the country's four main cell networks -- had been destroyed in Chin state in recent days.

Mytel data and wifi services in the state capital Hakha had been down since Friday, a resident told AFP on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear if the outage was due to damage to cell towers or if authorities had imposed an internet blackout.

A junta spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

That spate of attacks came after the self-proclaimed "National Unity Government", made up mostly of lawmakers from Suu Kyi's ousted party, urged citizens to target military assets in their areas.

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 8,000 arrested since the coup, according to local observers.

The junta has defended its power grab by alleging massive fraud during elections in late 2020 which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won by a landslide.

A diplomatic headache looms at the UN General Assembly, which started Tuesday in New York, over who member states will recognise as representing Myanmar at the world body.

The junta is seeking to install its own representative to replace current ambassador and outspoken democracy supporter Kyaw Moe Tun, who was appointed by Suu Kyi's government and has refused junta orders to quit.