Thu. Jan 27th, 2022

Maung Maung Kyaw, a general under US sanctions, was reportedly removed from the post he has held since 2018.

Myanmar’s military leader removed the head of the air force, media and sources close to the armed forces said, after a series of deadly bombings to suppress resistance that has provoked worldwide condemnation.

Sources told Reuters news agency that 57-year-old Maung Maung Kyaw, a general from an elite military background, has been replaced in the post he has held since 2018.

Two of the sources said Htun Aung, who was the air force’s chief of staff, took over the post.

The change in personnel came when the army allegedly carried out another air strike on Thursday in Htigyaing, a town in the Sagaing region, according to the Kachin News Group. Armed residents in the town have apparently been fighting with the army since Wednesday night.

There was no public announcement that Maung Maung Kyaw had been removed and Reuters could not determine why military leader Min Aung Hlaing removed him.

But the Eleven Myanmar news website quoted military spokesman General Zaw Min Tun as saying that Maung Maung Kyaw had “completed his service”.

“According to our military protocol, he (General Maung Maung Kyaw) will remain as a SAC member. His chief of staff became commander-in-chief (air). “It was just like the way Admiral Moe Aung became Commander-in-Chief (Navy) after his predecessor Admiral Tin Aung San terminated his service,” the spokesman said.

Since the army took power in a coup on February 1 last year, which caused mass protests and a resistance movement, the air force was used to transport troops around Myanmar to thwart opposition.

Witnesses say the air force was also used for bombings that killed civilians. The military has not commented on the allegations, saying they are not pursuing civilians.

The Karen Information Center reported on Thursday that military airstrikes on Tuesday destroyed a hospital in Dwe Lo township in the state of Karen.

The army, which has sent elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and most of her allies to prison, is calling opposition forces loyal to her ousted government “terrorists”.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a human rights group, says more than 1,400 people have died in violence since the coup, including those killed in bombings. The military disputes the reported number of casualties.

Party in London and Santorini

Maung Maung Kyaw was the subject of a Reuters investigation last year that revealed that his family members, including his son and cousin, were part of a young generation of military families with business interests that included the provision of armed forces.

Photos and postings on social media – showing parties at expensive venues in Singapore and trips to Bangkok, London and Santorini – showed that his family members enjoy a lifestyle that is far beyond the reach of the vast majority of Burmese.

Maung Maung Kyaw, who had sanctions imposed on him by the United States about his role in the coup, did not respond to questions Reuters sent to the military prior to the publication of his investigation.

In recent weeks, airstrikes by the town of Loikaw in the eastern Kayah state, which borders Thailand, where ethnic armed groups have joined forces with newly formed anti-coup organizations, have forced thousands of people to flee.

Opponents of the military say Myanmar’s army suffered heavy losses during the fighting.

The military did not comment on reports that it had suffered heavy losses.

Elsewhere, The Irrawaddy News website reported on Thursday that at least three residents of a village in the Sagaing region were killed by military forces during a raid on Monday.

Among the deaths was apparently a person with a mental illness.

Images posted by The Irrawaddy on social media showed what looked like a burnt human body. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

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