Myanmar rebels carry out unprecedented attack on military academy

Ethnic armed rebel groups have for decades fought against the Myanmar military, above, for land and resources in the country’s east. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2019

Myanmar rebels carry out unprecedented attack on military academy

  • Ethnic armed rebel groups have for decades fought against the military for land and resources in Myanmar’s east
  • Assault targeted Pyin Oo Lwin, that is also home to barracks teeming with soldiers receiving training

YANGON: Myanmar’s military was Thursday fighting rebels who mounted an unprecedented strike at an army academy killing at least one, apparently in retaliation for massive drug seizures.
Ethnic armed rebel groups have for decades fought against the military — and often between themselves — for land and resources in Myanmar’s east.
Experts say the area is now the world’s largest meth-producing region, funding the complex web of conflicts.
Thursday’s brazen assault targeted Pyin Oo Lwin, a tourist town near Mandalay, that is also home to barracks teeming with soldiers receiving training.
Images from local media showed burned out cars riddled with bullet holes and damaged buildings showered in debris.
The Taaung National Liberation Army (TNLA) said the group launched attacks in retaliation for military offensives.
“Fighting took place at five places this morning,” TNLA spokesman Major Mai Aik Kyaw said, but clashes were ongoing.
One strike targeted the Defense Service Technology Academy (DSTA) where military engineers are trained, while another hit a police station near the region’s landmark Gokteik bridge, a rail route popular with sightseers.
Mai Aik Kyaw said the group mounted the attacks in coordination with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA).
The AA is currently fighting the military, or Tatmadaw, in the conflict-scarred western Rakhine state, but is in a tight alliance with the other rebel groups.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun confirmed all five attacks, saying one civilian had so far been killed in the crossfire and two members of the security forces had been injured.
“We assume they carried out the attacks because the Tatmadaw seized tons of drugs a few weeks ago,” he said.
In July, narcotics police were met with heavy artillery fire when they launched a major drugs crackdown in Kutkai township in neighboring Shan state.
Huge stockpiles of chemicals as well as millions of dollars’ worth of ice, the highly addictive crystalized form of meth, were seized in a single raid.
The “Golden Triangle” — a lawless wedge of land intersecting China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos — has long served as a base for opium and heroin production.
A cease-fire in Shan state declared by the military in December is officially due to finish in two weeks even though clashes with armed groups have continued.
China’s plans to invest in major infrastructure projects have added another dimension to the conflict with groups vying for control of increasingly valuable territory.


Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

Updated 25 January 2020

Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

  • The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahar
  • The territory has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975

RABAT: The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said on Friday their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975.
Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal cover to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern in Spain’s Canary Islands, where the government warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.
“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
“Morocco rejects unilateral acts and fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.
Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands.”
“Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” she said, citing “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.