published : 2023-09-06

Drone Attack in Eastern Burma Kills at least 5, Including Senior Army Official

Military Seized Power in February 2021 from Democratically Elected Aung San Suu Kyi

A photo of a drone hovering in the sky above a police headquarters in eastern Burma, capturing the tension and gravity of the situation. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

A drone attack on a police headquarters in a major border town in eastern Burma has resulted in the deaths of at least five officials, including a senior army officer and a district administrator, according to media reports.

The attack, which took place on Sunday evening in two stages, is thought to be the deadliest aerial bombing targeting high-ranking security and administrative officials since armed resistance began more than two years ago against the military that seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

Following the military seizure of power, peaceful nationwide protests erupted. However, when security forces responded with lethal force, local armed resistance groups formed and became loosely organized as the People's Defense Force (PDF), aligning themselves with Burma's shadow National Unity Government.

The PDF, in collaboration with major ethnic guerrilla groups in border regions, has engaged in armed struggle against the army for decades, with the goal of seeking greater autonomy.

An image of peaceful protesters gathering in the streets of Burma, holding signs and demanding the return of democracy. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Federal Wings, a resistance group that conducts drone warfare alongside the People's Defense Force and its allies belonging to ethnic Karen armed groups, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack in a statement posted on their Facebook page. They confirmed that five people, including the battalion commander, had been killed.

The attack resulted in the death of Lt. Col. Aung Kyaw Min, the temporary commander of a battalion based in Myawaddy township, and a traffic police officer who succumbed to their injuries in a hospital. Myawaddy District Administrator Soe Tint, his aide-de-camp Tun Tun Nyein, and a clerk also died at the scene when drones dropped two bombs while they were inspecting the damage caused by a previous drone attack.

Additional reports indicate that 10 security and administrative officials are being treated in hospitals in Myawaddy, while four others, including the head of the district police office, have been transported to a private hospital in Mae Sot, Thailand, for better medical care.

Drones have become a crucial asset for the resistance forces, who are outmatched and outgunned by the military's superior firepower. Initially, smaller drones carrying lighter payloads were utilized, but now the opposition groups have upgraded to more advanced systems capable of accurately dropping explosives on military targets.

A photograph showing members of the People's Defense Force and ethnic guerrilla groups standing strong together, ready to defend their autonomy. (Taken with a Sony A7 III)

The statement released by Federal Wings, claiming responsibility for the attack, included a warning to civil servants and their families to evacuate government offices and housing. They also advised residents of Myawaddy to stay away from official offices and military outposts for their own safety, emphasizing that their sole targets were armed security forces affiliated with the military.

As the situation in Eastern Burma continues to unfold, the use of drones in warfare and the resilience of the armed resistance groups have proven to be defining factors in this ongoing conflict.