Security forces have detained more than 30 youths in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon as authorities conducted a series of raids in response to the country’s shadow government warning of a “D-Day” operation to oust the junta nearly seven months after it seized power through a coup.
Five people, including a couple that own a popular noodle shop, were arrested late on Monday in Yangon’s Sanchaung township, a resident of the area told RFA’s Myanmar Service, speaking on condition of anonymity citing fear of reprisal.
“They began the searches around 4:00 p.m., first near Thayettaw Road and Tayokekyaung Road, before moving to Zeyawaddy, Moe Ma Kha, and Gandamar Roads. They later searched the noodle shop on Ma Kyee Kyee Road,” the resident said.
“They conducted the searches from until around 3:30 a.m. I believe more than a dozen people were arrested. Every time they made an arrest, they would take the person to the police station and then come back again to make more arrests.”
Authorities also searched adjacent roads in the area and arrested several youths from New People’s Ward 4 during a check on household registration documents, residents said.
Other sources told RFA that more than a dozen people were also arrested Monday in Yangon’s Thaketa, Ahlone and Thingangyun townships.
“The military was searching for and arresting people last evening in Thingangyun township and other areas—about 20 people were arrested,” said a Thingangyun resident who declined to be named.
“What we heard was that they got information from one of those arrested about an online app that young people are using to communicate with each other. From that app, they found out the connections and made the arrests.”
RFA was unable to verify the exact number of arrests, but they come amid several in recent days that included the detention of four young men during a raid Monday morning in Yangon’s Tha-maing Myothit district.
Authorities appear to be intensifying a crackdown on anti-junta activities that began soon after the military seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a Feb. 1 putsch. In the nearly seven months since the coup, security forces have killed 1,014 civilians and arrested at least 5,851, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The junta says it had to unseat Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) government because the party engineered a landslide victory in Myanmar’s November 2020 election through widespread voter fraud. It has yet to present evidence of its claims and public unrest is at an all-time high.
The NUG recently announced plans to set a date for a “D-Day” operation to purge the country of the junta through a popular uprising supported by a network of People’s Defense Force (PDF) militia groups formed to protect the public from the military.
On Monday night, a bomb went off at a military-owned garment factory in Ward 7 of Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar township where troops had recently set up camp, wounding at least two soldiers, according to a statement issued about 15 minutes after the blast by the Hlaing Tharyar guerrilla group (CGF).
In the statement, the CGF claimed responsibility for what it said was a remote-controlled explosion in retaliation for an attack by the military earlier on Monday.
A resident of Hlaing Tharyar township confirmed the bombing on Monday and said it was followed by what sounded like a short firefight.
“There was a bomb blast at about 10:00 last night … followed by about 20 gunshots and then another rounds fired,” the resident said.
“There were no arrests of civilians, but armed soldiers were patrolling the streets on motorcycles as well as on foot in civilian clothes … There are checkpoints everywhere.”
Shootings and bombings are on the rise after the NUG’s D-Day announcement, and the junta has responded by stepping up security measures in nearly every city. The military regime recently appointed police chiefs to replace the Minister for Transport and Communications in all states and divisions, including Yangon.
Sources told RFA that the junta has been using loudspeakers in major cities in recent days to warn people not to support the NUG government, demand that militia groups surrender, and offer rewards to those who provide information about the PDF.
Political analyst Than Soe Naing told RFA that the military’s efforts are unlikely to head off a challenge to its hold on power.
“Civil war is just beginning. The situation is becoming intense, and I believe the momentum will only get stronger after D-Day,” he said.
“In the meantime, we hear about fighting daily while the military is checking visitor lists in cities throughout the country and carrying out arrests … I think that as soon as the D-Day program begins, various movements will spring up nationwide.”
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.