A Myanmar armed resistance group assassinated two army intelligence officers near a highway in Bago Region on Sunday afternoon, according to multiple sources.
Members of the third and sixth squadrons under the command of the anti-regime People’s Defence Force’s (PDF) Battalion 3501 claimed responsibility for the fatal attack on the military officials. The incident took place at around 1:45pm, some 40 miles south of the administrative capital of Naypyitaw, on the road connecting Yangon and Mandalay.
Maj Than Htut, who served in the No. 1 Military Security Affairs Auxiliary Unit in Yangon, was travelling in a black Toyota with Sgt Myint Aung when they were targeted by resistance fighters, according to a statement on the attack released by the Bago PDF. The group oversees the two squadrons that were involved in the assault.
The PDF claimed that Than Htut played a significant role in the operation of interrogation centres in Yangon, and that both he and Myint Aung were responsible for the arrests of urban guerrilla force members in the city, who they identified through undercover work.
The two officers posed as individuals trying to buy weapons from urban resistance fighters, according to both a police source in Yangon and the statement from the Bago PDF.
Relying on information provided to the PDF by the Yangon Urban Guerrillas Association, the resistance group said in the statement that they stopped the car in question in order to arrest Than Htut and Myint Aung. Once confronted, the men reportedly opened fire on the resistance fighters, who shot both officials dead at the scene.
The Bago PDF torched the army officials’ car after confiscating their weapons and personal identification documents. Among these papers was a Covid-19 vaccine certificate issued to Than Htut by the military, which revealed his rank, unit, and that the major was in his late 30s.
Further details regarding Myint Aung were not available at the time of reporting, but his name had recently appeared in a leaked army document describing him as leading a fake underground resistance group in Yangon. He was also said to have coerced detained PDF members into assisting in military intelligence operations.
An official from the highway police station in Zee Pin Thar village, located near the site of the attack, told Myanmar Now that two bodies were found on Sunday afternoon, along with a burned vehicle. The police officer also said that the two men had visible bullet wounds to the head and chest.
“I think they each had at least two gunshot wounds. Both were in plainclothes,” he added..
A homicide case was opened at the police station in the town of Yedashe, located a few miles from the scene of the assassination.
The Bago PDF also said that two other individuals who had been in the car with Than Htut and Myint Aung attempted to seize the resistance fighters’ weapons during the roadside confrontation; both were shot dead.
A source within the police force in Yangon who is familiar with the case said that the men were former guerrilla fighters who had been collaborating with military intelligence to arrest members of the resistance.
“These two individuals had switched sides and were working as guides,” the police source said.
A Yangon Urban Guerrillas Association spokesperson said that Than Htut had caused discord among urban guerrillas, and had forced members who had been taken into junta custody to carry out counter-intelligence on other groups.
“We have been waiting patiently to act… He led undercover operations and was notorious for his interrogations,” he said.
The police source in Yangon also told Myanmar Now that two military officials who had been supervisors within the No. 1 Military Security Affairs Auxiliary Unit in Yangon—where the assassinated officers had worked—were being questioned in a military tribunal at the time of reporting. They were identified as Brig-Gen Nay Lin Tun and Col Myat Ko, with their military security affairs unit situated near the junction of the Yangon airport road and Pyay road.
The Office of the Chief of Military Security Affairs, the rebranded military intelligence department, is currently headed by Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo, who is also a joint secretary in the military council.
Myanmar Now understands that the junta’s intelligence department has created several fake underground groups in an attempt to infiltrate PDF networks and gather data on arms flow to the country’s major cities. However, Sunday’s assassinations mark the first known occasion since the February 2021 military coup that a senior intelligence officer was targeted through the operations of the armed resistance.
Reporting by Han Thit and Maung Shwe Wah