NUG stepping up efforts to supply guerrilla fighters with weapons, says defence official 

Myanmar’s underground National Unity Government (NUG) is stepping up efforts to provide weapons and other support to anti-junta armed groups across the country following calls from the guerrilla fighters for more assistance, a senior defence official has told Myanmar Now. 

Naing Htoo Aung, the secretariat of NUG’s defence ministry and also its spokesperson, said plans were underway to establish a chain of command alongside a system to connect the numerous self-organising groups that have sprung up to resist the junta in recent months. 

“We have started providing our PDF comrades and local resistance fighters with defence equipment to protect the public,” he said. 

“Because there are a lot of PDFs and local resistance forces scattered all over the country, it’s hard for the defence ministry to connect them all in such a short period,” he added. “However, we are trying to make the most out of the little time that we have.” 

The NUG on September 7 declared a “resistance war” against Min Aung Hlaing’s coup regime after officially forming the People’s Defence Force (PDF) in May. 

But the majority of attacks against junta targets appear to have been carried out by local groups independently of the NUG, and many PDF chapters say they have received little material support from the shadow administration so far despite badly needing it. 

KNDF troops seen gathered in Demoso in June (KNDF/Facebook)

Local PDFs say the biggest challenge they face is an imbalance of firepower. An officer from an urban guerrilla in central Myanmar said his organisation needed military training and advice, weapons, and greater collaboration with the NUG. 

“There are so many basic things we need, including food supplies and even shoes,” he told Myanmar Now. “We are barely surviving on the donations of the people. The most essential requirement is weapons.” 

The NUG has not disclosed any details about how it plans to establish support networks or a military hierarchy that would enable different groups across the country to coordinate their attacks. 

Naing Htoo Aung said that his ministry would reveal more soon. “The next stage of the revolution is coming inevitably. The people will get to see the changes that are coming very soon,” he said.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told BBC Burmese earlier this month that PDF chapters in Yangon and Mandalay have stepped up attacks since the NUG’s declaration of war.

Junta soldiers have routinely responded to PDF attacks by collectively punishing civilians with torture, arson and killings. 

A member of the recently formed Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) said that his group has collaborated with the NUG, but declined to disclose details.

“We are on good terms and are working together on military and other necessary actions,” he said. “We have also received some good advice from the NUG. We can’t disclose exactly what kind of support we are getting from them but it is sufficient.” 

The NUG said in May that the PDF would eventually become a Federal Union Army that, it is hoped, will include long-established ethnic armed groups. 

But that will involve rebuilding trust with numerous groups who felt betrayed by the Bamar-majority National League for Democracy government, whose members played the key role in founding the NUG after the February coup.

“We are constantly in discussion with ethnic armed organisations,” Naing Htoo Aung said, “and because we have considered all the ethnicities’ wellbeing as our central interest, positive improvements have been achieved.”

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