On Tuesday morning, fighting escalated in Mandalay after an early morning raid by junta forces triggered clashes between soldiers and recently formed local civilian forces, local media reported, marking a new chapter of intensifying urban warfare in Myanmar’s anti-coup movement.
Armored vehicles were seen patrolling city streets as soldiers and civilian defence forces exchanged shots throughout the city. Snipers were spotted on civilian buildings on social media posts. There were also reports of grenades and rocket launchers being used, seen in videos posted on social media.
In a statement to Irrawaddy News, the leader of Mandalay’s People’s Defence Force (PDF), Bo Tun Tauk Naing, said that they were reacting in self-defense to a raid.
“They sniffed us out. They came to our base between 111st and 112nd streets on 54th Street and we shot at them as they came,” Naing told Irrawaddy. “When we found out they were coming, we fired back. It is the day we have been waiting for to start fighting.”
Tuesday marks a new chapter in urban warfare between recently formed chapters of PDF in Mandalay. In previous weeks, multiple shootings and bombings were reported around the country particularly around targets of the military junta such as ward administrative offices and police stations.
In a video leaked online, a military truck was consumed by a massive fireball explosion in downtown Yangon that killed multiple soldiers. Since February 1, there have been over 300 reported bomb attacks in the country.
In Sagaing State, local residents equipped with traditional hunting rifles and homemade weapons have mounted a fierce resistance for weeks against security forces’ offensives to quell anti-coup protests, in what has been dubbed the “Tumi Revolution,” named after the single-shot rifles known as Tumi guns.
Since Feb. 1, the State Administrative Council (SAC) has faced fierce opposition from all sectors of society in both non-violent and increasingly violent ways. The Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) has crippled the nation’s healthcare and banking systems and brought the country’s economy to its knees.
Armed resistance has also intensified in recent weeks, evidenced by renewed clashes between junta security forces and local PDF chapters. Non-violent protests also continue in much of the country despite the threat of brutal crackdowns, including last weekend where thousands defied the junta by marching in the streets with flowers to celebrate the 76th birthday of deposed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
International embassies released statements Monday, condemning the violence in Mandalay and said they were closely monitoring the developing situation.
The urban bloody confrontations in Mandalay heightened once again the death toll following the 1st February military coup. It highlights the emergent need to build a credible and sustainable crisis recovery process. #Myanmar pic.twitter.com/NPUv1LEarA
— France en Birmanie (@FrancenBirmanie) June 22, 2021
We are tracking reports of ongoing fighting in Mandalay, including early reports of possible civilian casualties. We are disturbed by the military escalation and urgently call for a cessation of violence. pic.twitter.com/5qKMtGmd2a
— U.S. Embassy Burma (@USEmbassyBurma) June 22, 2021