Junta mulls raising village militias
Myanmar's junta is considering raising village militias to combat opposition to its rule, state media said yesterday, as it struggles to assert control more than six months after seizing power.
The country has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi's government was ousted in a February coup, sparking huge pro-democracy protests and a bloody military crackdown.
Local "self-defence groups" have sprung up to fight the military, often using hunting rifles or weapons manufactured at makeshift jungle factories.
The groups have added to the volatile mix in Myanmar, where more than 20 ethnic rebel groups were already in various stages of conflict with the military before the coup.
The State Administration Council -- as the junta dubs itself -- has discussed the "systematic formation of village people's militia troops," the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.
It also discussed rewards for those informing on anti-junta protesters, and the "effective hindering" of established insurgent groups on Myanmar's fringes who are providing weapons and training, the paper said.
Sporadic fighting continues across the country, with locals in the northwest Sagaing region accusing the military of using artillery during clashes with one group.
Earlier this month Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, who has refused to leave his post after the coup, alerted the world body to a "reported massacre" of 40 people in Sagaing.
More than 1,000 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to a local monitoring group.