Beyond the Headlines: Urban guerrilla force detonates bomb in Myanmar junta capital

Urban violence

An explosion went off near the residence of a junta-appointed administrator in Shwekyarbin ward in Zabuthiri Township on the evening of February 4. The explosion in the junta capital of Naypyitaw came from an explosive device placed in the sewer drain opposite the home of 40-year-old Tin Khaing, but no damage was caused by the explosion, according to locals. Junta troops arrived at the administrator’s house shortly after the blast, checked recordings from CCTV cameras installed at his house and questioned civilians in the neighbourhood.

The anti-regime Sittaung Urban Guerrilla Force in Naypyitaw claimed responsibility for the attack the next day and accused Tin Khaing of helping junta forces to collect information for the voter list in preparation for the junta’s election. This was the second time that the administrator’s residence was attacked in recent months; a package containing a bomb was also found in front of his house on November 7 last year, before it had detonated, according to local sources.

Shwekyarbin ward is located around three miles from the “Row of Six Mansions,” one of Naypyitaw’s most high-security residential areas and where six retired generals live, including ex-dictator Than Shwe and former president Thein Sein.

Tin Khaing (masked, centre) is seen at a pro-junta parade in Naypyitaw after the February 2021 coup (Supplied)

Junta affairs

The military council appointed retired Col Htein Lin as the new chief minister of Rakhine State in a regime reshuffle of its cabinet on February 1. The ex-army officer served as Rakhine State’s minister of security and border affairs twice between 2011 and 2017: in the hybrid administration headed by Thein Sein and the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Prior to 2011, he had been stationed in Maungdaw Township, an area whose large Rohingya Muslim population has suffered years of persecution and abuse by the military. 

Sources within previous administrations and the state’s legislative body have described Htein Lin as having a commendable understanding of the geography of Rakhine State and the issues facing its people. Yet veteran Rakhine politician Pe Than, who was acquainted with Htein Lin during his time in the region, was less flattering, predicting that he would behave “exactly as a soldier serving the military council.”

“In case battles break out, a military officer is more likely than a civilian minister to comply with the military council’s commands. After all, soldiers only stand up for soldiers,” Pe Than commented.

Col Htein Lin is seen in the Rakhine State parliament in March 2015 (Rakhine IRPDF)

Htein Lin replaced Dr Aung Kyaw Min, who was the minister of social welfare during Thein Sein’s administration, and was appointed as member of the central military council last week. 

After retiring from the army, Htein Lin served as a President’s Office advisor to the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre led by Suu Kyi.


The regime’s Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) claimed it approved 70 foreign investments from eight countries between April of last year and January, bringing in US$1.476b in capital including through expansion of existing ventures. A junta mouthpiece identified Singapore as the country’s top international investor, with its companies spending $1.157b on projects. Hong Kong stands in second with more than $165m invested in 12 Myanmar enterprises. China is ranked third, with more than $105.55m in 36 projects, according to the regime’s newspapers.

The new foreign investments also included two from South Korea and Taiwan and one each from Belize, Japan and the United Kingdom (UK). The countries that expanded their investments according to the regime included Japan, India, Korea, Thailand, the UK and Switzerland. The companies involved are working in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, electricity, hotels and tourism, real-estate and service sectors, the junta said.

Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify the junta’s claims and figures regarding Foreign Direct Investment. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military coup two years ago, causing several international investors to withdraw from the country. An economic recession has been widely anticipated by analysts. 

Ethnic armed organisations

A regional courthouse under the jurisdiction of the Arakan Army (AA) handed a death sentence to a man convicted of the murder of an 18-year-old woman in the state capital of Sittwe in Rakhine State on February 3. 

Nwe Thandar Win, a grocery store employee, was killed on August 15 last year and her manager, Myo Myint Zaw, was arrested by the AA as the prime suspect in the case. 

After the guilty verdict was announced, Myo Myint Zaw was sentenced to death by hanging as is prescribed in Section 302(1)(c) of Myanmar’s Penal Code. 

Murder victim Nwe Thandar Win (Supplied)

“Despite a death sentence being handed to him, we have allowed him chances to plead to the [AA’s] high court in accordance with legal procedure,” said AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha, who did not disclose the exact location where the manager was being held.

While the AA has enforced its rural administrative and judiciary systems in Rakhine State in recent years, a murder sentence is rare, particularly since the crime in question was perpetrated in the state capital of Sittwe. 

The junta authorities initially captured and questioned a young man from the area where Nwe Thandar Win was killed and subjected him to a four-month trial. He was found not guilty and released on January 27. 

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