Member of Mandalay urban guerrilla group dies in custody

A member of the Special Task Force-Mandalay (STF-MDY), an urban guerrilla group based in Myanmar’s second-largest city, has died in junta custody less than two weeks after his arrest, according to the group.

In a statement released on the social media platform Telegram, the STF-MDY confirmed the death of Zaw Min Thein—also known as Myat Thu—on Tuesday. No cause of death was given.

The 20-year-old was arrested on April 6 during a raid on the Mya Yee Nandar Residence in Mandalay’s Chanmyathazi Township, where he was living at the time.

“They forced their way into his room and found him in possession of a pistol. He was brutally beaten during his arrest,” a neighbour who witnessed the incident told Myanmar Now.

“I don’t even know why he would choose to hide in this area, which is full of military informants. But I guess he had nowhere else to go,” the neighbour added.

A day after the raid on the Mya Yee Nandar Residence—which had also been targeted a number of times in the past—another raid was carried out at a student hostel in Maha Aungmyay Township, near Mandalay University.

According to a resident of the hostel, the junta forces failed to apprehend the STF-MDY member they were looking for, but arrested two other young men he was sharing his room with.

“They were beaten and arrested in his place. The weapons and ammunition that were seized from the room had nothing to do with them,” the hostel resident said.

The victims were identified as Shine Wunna Tun and Nan Myo Aung, both 18 years old.

The STF-MDY denounced their arrests.

“It’s only fair if they try to arrest us, but they’ve crossed the line by arresting these two unrelated individuals,” said Anicca, the group’s information officer.

This was followed a day later by the arrest of another STF-MDY member in Sagaing Region.

Thawdar Tun was captured following an airstrike on the village of Oak Pho in Sagaing Township on April 8, according to Anicca. Weapons and ammunition worth more than 10,000,000 kyat ($4,800) were also seized, he added.

Seven other guerrilla fighters were also injured during the attack, but managed to escape.

Weapons and ammunition seized near the village of Oak Pho in Sagaing Township and a hostel in Mandalay by Myanmar’s military

Three days later, the military announced the capture of the four individuals and published photos of them and the seized weapons and ammunition in state media.

STF-MDY is one of the main guerrilla groups operating in Mandalay. It claims to have carried out dozens of assassinations targeting junta personnel, including soldiers, police, and civilian administrators.

Crackdowns on urban guerrilla groups in Mandalay have been frequent in recent months, but the groups remain active despite a wave of at least 40 arrests in July and August of last year.

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