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Myanmar junta considers forming militia groups in villages to fight opposition

This file photo shows Myanmar soldiers standing guard on a road in Naypyidaw amid anti-coup protests. (By AFP)

More than six months after taking over Myanmar in a coup d'etat, the military is now trying to further assert its rule by raising local militias in villages to fight opposition groups.

The junta has discussed the "systematic formation of village people's militia troops," said the military-controlled media on Tuesday.

The military also considered rewards for those informing on anti-junta protesters, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar.

The newspaper said the junta were calling for the “effective hindering" of established groups on Myanmar's fringes, who are providing weapons and training to anti-coup protesters.

The South Asian country has been embroiled in turmoil since February 1, when the military seized power from the civilian government and arrested its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and many of her associates.

So far, more than 1000 people have been killed and about 200,000 forced to flee their homes as a result of the crackdown.

However, anti-coup protests demanding the restoration of civilian rule continue on a regular basis.  

Local "self-defense groups" have formed to fight the military, often using hunting rifles or weapons built at makeshift jungle factories.

According to analyst David Mathieson, Junta’s latest attempt is unlikely to get much support from the villagers due to "the widespread anger towards the military." 

“But also there must be a Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) dilemma in training and arming people who... may turn the training and arms back on you,” he told AFP.

The coup has already worsened the conflict between the country’s military and ethnic rebel groups, prompting new clashes that have displaced thousands of people.

The military ruler, Min Aung Hlaing, has formed a provisional administration and extended the deadline for new elections to almost two years and a half, drawing criticism that he is seeking to extend his rule using delaying tactics. 

Myanmar was ruled by the military from 1962 until 2011 when Suu Kyi ended the junta rule.

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