A local resistance group attacked Myanmar’s military forces guarding the China-backed oil and gas pipelines in Natogyi town in Mandalay Region in Myanmar on Monday, damaging the facility.
The Natogyi-People’s Defense Force (NPDF), the resistance group, said it had no choice but to strike regime soldiers stationed at the off-take point since they had a history of persecuting and looting residents during operations in the region.
The anti-Chinese sentiment is on the rise in Myanmar following the military coup in February, with many in the country believing Beijing to have been involved in the military takeover of the power. There were demands for a boycott of the Chinese goods at the time as well as threats to blow up pipelines if China failed to denounce the military regime.
Myanmar’s Military regime arrested nearly a dozen people in the town on Monday and Tuesday, including some with links to the National League for Democracy (NLD), a Natogyi resident told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
The NPDF used two rifle grenades to attack 13 regime personnel providing security for the off-take station. Ko Twantay, an NPDF spokesperson and Myingyan District-PDF Battalion 4 commander, said, the wall of the off-take station was damaged after being hit by an explosive during the attack.
“We just targeted the regime forces, not the pipeline station,” Ko Twantay told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, reported the news portal.
Notably, the oil and gas pipelines, which run from the Rakhine coast to southern China, were constructed in 2011 and began operation in July 2013. The 973-km pipelines pass through Magwe and Mandalay regions and Shan State to China’s Yunnan Province.
Myanmar’s military regime has been on alert after the attack and has tightened security in Natogyi town, bringing in reinforcements from nearby townships.
China has encouraged Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government to ensure that the country’s opposition movement does not jeopardise the Chinese interests.
The Chinese request came after a local opposition group in Sagaing’s Tigyaing Township destroyed electricity pylons supporting the China-backed Tagaung Taung nickel-processing factory in early January, reported the news portal.
Myanmar’s military junta had earlier designated the National Unity Government as a terrorist group. The National Unity Government was set up by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the military seized power and detained civilian leaders, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The country is in turmoil since the coup on February 1, when the Myanmar military led by Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence throughout the country.