Myanmar junta says rockets fired at 2 air bases; no injuries

In this image from video, a riverside Myanmar Army base, top left, seized by Karen guerrillas is seen from Mae Sam Laep, Thailand near the border with Myanmar Thursday, April 29, 2021. Myanmar government forces launched airstrikes against ethnic minority guerrillas in two areas of the country on Wednesday, local reports said. (UGC via AP)
In this image from video, a riverside Myanmar Army base, top left, seized by Karen guerrillas is seen from Mae Sam Laep, Thailand near the border with Myanmar Thursday, April 29, 2021. Myanmar government forces launched airstrikes against ethnic minority guerrillas in two areas of the country on Wednesday, local reports said. (UGC via AP)

BANGKOK – Rockets were fired at two Myanmar government air bases on Thursday, causing minor damage and no injuries, the military junta said.

The attacks are the latest sign that as the junta attempts to control widespread protests in cities against its February seizure of power, it is facing new military challenges in other areas.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks on the bases in Magway and Meiktila in central Myanmar, and the government said it is seeking those responsible.

Capt. Aye Thazin Myint, a junta spokeswoman, said at a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that four 107mm rockets were fired at the air force base in Magway at 3 a.m. Thursday, with three landing in a field and one on a road. She said one building was slightly damaged in the attack, which the military determined originated from two nearby villages.

She said five rockets were fired between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the air base in Meiktila, where gunfire was also heard from nearby villages.

The rockets are commonly used by insurgent groups because they are are cheap and easily deployed, although they are not particularly accurate.

The junta, which ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in its Feb. 1 coup, is engaged in open warfare with guerrillas from the Kachin and Karen minorities which have allied themselves with the protest movement against military rule.

The Kachin, in northern Myanmar, and the Karen in the east have battled the central government for decades for greater autonomy, through periods of armed conflict and unsteady cease-fires. Both areas have experienced increased fighting in recent months and have been targeted by air strikes and ground attacks by government forces. The Karen on Tuesday captured a government base on the border with Thailand.