Detained NLD chief minister’s home bombed, NLD office attacked in Mandalay

Houses owned by a detained leader of the National League of Democracy (NLD) party were targeted in bomb attacks this week, just days after junta soldiers and administrators vandalised the party’s Mandalay office, according to local sources and party members. 

An explosion occurred on Monday evening around 10pm, damaging two houses belonging to the ousted NLD vice chair and chief minister of Mandalay Region, Zaw Myint Maung, and his family on a compound in Amarapura Township. 

Neither Zaw Myint Maung, who is currently serving a term in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, nor his relatives were present at the time. 

Both Zaw Myint Maung’s family home and a house belonging to his sister-in-law, located near the township police station, sustained damage in the explosion, according to a neighbour.

“We heard two explosions late at night but no one was out on the roads at the time. We heard that they used drones to launch the bombs. The houses were empty and locked,” the neighbour said. 

“Saya Zaw’s house and his sister-in-law’s house in the same compound were both targeted,” she added, referring to Zaw Myint Maung by an honorific title. 

According to the woman, there was only minor damage to the houses, but she saw junta soldiers sweeping for bombs around the house on Tuesday morning and said the troops told local people they had found undetonated explosives.

Posts on pro-junta Telegram channels claimed that the attack was carried out by the PDF due to an internal dispute over funds. 

However, the Amarapura Township resident claimed most of the township’s residents suspected the military council’s hand in the attack.

“They’re now sweeping for bombs as if they weren’t the ones who bombed the place. They’re spreading false information that the PDF conducted the attack because they didn’t get the bribes they asked for. We only suspect the military in this,” she said.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s house seen on May 9, the morning after the explosion (Supplied)

Zaw Myint Maung, who is 71 and suffering from leukaemia, was the vice chair of the pro-democracy NLD party when he was arrested on February 1, 2021, the day the Myanmar military took power in a coup. 

In addition to sentencing him to a total of 29 years in Obo Prison on charges of incitement, violation of pandemic restrictions, corruption, and electoral abuse that were widely criticised as fabricated, the junta has also blocked access to his home. 

A member of the NLD, who requested anonymity for reasons of personal safety, argued that the military was only attacking Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s houses to threaten and intimidate the people.

“It’s very disappointing, really. They have already put him in prison; they didn’t need to bomb his houses and cause further trouble for his family. I think the military is trying to make it so the public won’t even dare to communicate with his family. I just think this is a very low blow, even for the military council,” the NLD member said.

According to local residents, on the evening of May 5 after 9pm, junta soldiers and administrators brought demolition equipment to the site of the NLD’s Mandalay regional office, in Chanayethazan Township, in order to do deliberate damage to it. 

Junta-appointed ward administrator Chit Win and around 10 soldiers blocked nearby roads and proceeded to vandalise the office, firing guns into the air and yelling threats at residents of the neighbourhood, warning them not to leave their houses, according to Thapyay Nyo Newsletter, a local news outlet from Mandalay. 

They also jeered and shot at people who were using their mobile phones to film the incident, the newsletter reported. 

The party’s Mandalay regional office has already fallen under attack by the junta numerous times, as the NLD member also confirmed. 

“The office was already almost ruined by earlier bomb attacks. They’re like crazy people, going after anything they see,” he said.

“I went to check the damage at the office myself. They didn’t completely demolish the building, just the doors and party banners. But the inside of the office was completely ransacked,” he added. 

The military regime imposed prohibitive requirements for political parties to re-register for national-level elections at the beginning of this year, enabling them to handpick and selectively disqualify parties permitted to contest an election planned for later this year. In March, they announced the dissolution of 40 parties, including the NLD, that did not comply with the requirements. 

Since the 2021 military coup, NLD leaders, party members, and supporters have been detained or killed throughout Myanmar, and NLD party offices have been targeted for damage and destruction. 

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