A popular mixed martial arts fighter who joined anti-coup protests in Myanmar was injured by a homemade bomb and later arrested in a suspected explosion – among many others in at least three cities – as the military government struggles to assert control of the country amid rising death tolls and provocative protests.
Anti-coup protests took place across the country on Friday, including in the town of Magway west of the capital, Naypyidaw. A pre-dawn strike also took place in the Natmouk district of Magway, with protesters carrying torches and the red banner of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.
Young protesters also staged ‘love at first sight’ marches against the military in Thamine and Thaketa districts of Yangon, while reports on social media showed security forces raid the area early Friday. from Hledan to Yangon. The authorities also arrested several people, although they did not have an arrest warrant.
Army Myawaddy TV reported on Thursday that mixed martial arts fighter Phoe Thaw, 36, was arrested in hospital while receiving treatment for leg injuries sustained while she was in hospital. reportedly tested a homemade bomb Wednesday night in a gymnasium in Yangon.
Security forces said they found bomb-making equipment, weapons and ammunition during their searches of the gymnasium. He was one of four people detained and accused of colluding to commit acts of violence, he said.
Phoe Thaw is well known in Myanmar and was filmed during the protests with a sign that challenged coup leader Min Aung Hlaing to a cage fight.
Footage on Myawaddy TV on Thursday showed him on a stretcher, his legs covered with wounds and burns.
A former colleague, who spoke to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said the homemade bomb was left in the gymnasium parking lot by a police officer posing as a civilian.
More deaths, a crippled economy
Small explosions are increasingly common in Myanmar cities, some in government or military buildings, which coup officials say is evidence of a violent rebellion by supporters of the overthrown government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
A unity government made up of former politicians, pro-democracy groups and ethnic minority armies says the explosions are orchestrated by the military, which seeks to cling to power by eradicating its enemies.
Following earlier explosions on Wednesday, which hit a bus station in Mandalay as well as an army-owned bank and telecommunications company in Naypyidaw, Min Aung Hlaing called for “effective action” against the perpetrators.
“They are destroying the country,” MRTV said.
The station also reported that arrest warrants were being requested for 40 medical workers and teachers accused of promoting a campaign of civil disobedience.
– Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) May 7, 2021
The incident comes days after the military reported that five people, including a politician from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, were killed in an explosion in the Bago area, with bomb-making materials recovered from them. places.
Irrawaddy media and the Democratic Voice of Burma said on Thursday that a local government administrator was stabbed to death in Mandalay, the second such murder this week, after the fatal stabbing of an official appointed by the army in Yangon.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the February 1 coup, which ended 10 years of economic reform and attempts at democratic progress initiated by the military after 49 years of rule in the poor but wealthy country. in resources.
Months of protests and strikes have crippled the economy, disrupting banks, business and much of the bureaucracy, raising concerns that Myanmar is on the verge of becoming a failed state.
UPDATE: Burmese military says Pho Thaw, who was seriously injured in an explosion at a gymnasium in Bahan, was making bombs in the gymnasium when the explosion occurred
Security forces found bomb-making equipment, a pistol and bullets while searching a gymnasium, state media say https://t.co/d36xuLbjTk
– Kit Leong Wai (@LeongWaiKitCNA) May 7, 2021
The human rights observer, Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, reported Thursday evening that the toll of military repression since the start of the coup had already reached 772, while 3,738 are currently being held or were sentenced.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the numbers due to reporting restrictions.
In another development, more young people took to social media on Thursday to declare their intention to train to fight in the new unity government. “defense force”, threatening to attack the well-equipped army if more civilians are killed.