NUG denies that weapons seized in Shan State belonged to PDF

Myanmar’s publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG) has stated that some 500 rifles captured last week in southern Shan State were not the property of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), disputing the military’s claims. 

The military council released a statement on Sunday claiming to have seized a large stock of PDF arms—including at least 499 Type 81 rifles as well as ammunition and other materiel—from a Dyna truck traveling through northern Hopong Township the previous morning.

The NUG denied the claim, but stated that it had not yet identified which organisation owned the weapons.

“It is certain that the weapons didn’t belong to the PDF but we are still investigating whether they belonged to the ethnic armed forces allied with us,” said NUG press officer Nay Phone Latt. 

“The military is known to employ psychological warfare techniques using fabricated images, so we need to be very cautious,” he added. 

According to the regime’s statement, the driver and passengers in the truck—which was reportedly carrying the weapons between Pinlaung and Yatsauk (Lawksawk) townships—had escaped. 

A member of a local defence team operating in southern Shan State, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the weapons were likely intended for transport to Karenni (Kayah) State.

He added that it had become difficult to transport weapons in the area, and that 50 rifles had also recently been confiscated at a security checkpoint in Yatsauk Township. 

“I think they’re transporting the weapons in bulk because it takes longer to transport them in small batches,” the defence team member said.

The same defence team member claimed the junta had made the capture with the collaboration of the Pa-O National Organisation (PNO) and its armed wing, the Pa-O National Army.

Myanmar Now attempted to contact the PNO about its reported participation in the weapons seizure, but did not receive a response.

Fighters operating in Karenni State also denied having information as to the ownership of the seized weapons. 

“It’s hard to say, as we have a large number of armed forces under our command,” an information officer of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force said. “Therefore, I am currently unable to confirm this.”

Spokespeople for several Karenni State-based PDF groups also said they had no connection with the captured weapons.

A source close to fighters active in Shan State noted that several other armed groups are active in the area where the weapons were captured, including the PNO, the Restoration Council of Shan State, and the Shan State Progress Party.

“We need to take this incident into consideration as it was a large number of weapons,” the source said.

Standard Type 81 rifles are currently valued at 10m kyat ($4,500) each, while those manufactured in Myanmar are reportedly available at a price of 7m to 8m kyat ($3,300-$3,800).

According to Tactical Raptor, a social media page with content on military weapons, ethnic armed groups such as the Kachin Independence Army and United Wa State Army were manufacturing Type 81 rifles for anti-junta armed groups throughout Myanmar, including those operating in the Karenni and Shan states.

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