Mobile phone service cut amid heavy fighting in Myanmar’s Sagaing — Radio Free Asia

On Tuesday, Burmese junta troops briefly cut off mobile phone service in eight townships in the Sagaing region, leaving more than a million residents without access to cellphones in a bid to conceal the movements and operations of Military Council forces in the war-torn area, according to Burmese sources.

Telephone lines were cut for six hours from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., with affected areas including Monywa, Pale, Khin Oo, Ye-U, Kanbalu, Kyun Hla and Kani. local sources said.

“Yes, the phone lines were cut around 7 a.m.,” a resident of Khin Oo told RFA, on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “I found a missed call notification on my phone earlier and now I’m calling you back, but even the signal drops from time to time.

“The place I’m talking from has a pretty strong signal, and there’s also a place where you can get 2G internet service. But we have to find those kinds of places to make our calls,” he said. he declares.

“The service has been available intermittently, but at the moment it seems to be working again,” said a villager from Ye-U in Sagaing, where more than 150,000 residents have been struggling to make and receive calls for 6 hours of the morning. “Earlier in the morning, both of my phones weren’t working.

Local providers MPT and Telenor were both down, the source said, also declining to be named. “Service is ok one minute, then the next it’s not,” he added.

Nearly 20 calls made by RFA to the municipalities concerned around 10 a.m. were unsuccessful, while a call made in the afternoon to a resident of Monywa was blocked. Phone service was largely restored to the township around 1 p.m., residents said.

Myo Swe, director general of the communications directorate of the ruling Military Council, told RFA he was unaware of reports of a cut in services. “I don’t know anything about this problem. We’ll take a look at that,” he said.

Photo: citizen journalist

But a spokesman for the Myanmar Defense Forces, an armed group created to oppose the junta’s rule, said junta troops had cut off telephone service in Sagaing to prevent reporting on their activities and of their movements in the region.

“They don’t want the news of the arson of their soldiers reaching the media and the international community,” spokesman Bo Taw Win said. “We have video files of some of them burning houses, but we cannot upload them due to weak signals. We can only upload photos.

“But they also want to hide our victories. They don’t want people to know the intensity of the fighting here, and they don’t want donor aid to reach us,” Bo Taw Win said.

Military activities were reported in Kani and Ye-U townships after telephone service was cut off on Tuesday morning, it added.

The Sagaing region in northwestern Myanmar has been the center of one of the strongest armed resistances to junta rule since the military seized power from the country’s democratically elected government in a coup on February 1, 2021.

The Myanmar military has been carrying out a campaign of arson in Sagaing for months targeting rural villages, killing civilians and burning down hundreds of homes, displacing thousands.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane for RFA’s Myanmar service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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