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Myanmar Election Official Killed; Military Blames Rebels

YANGON, MYANMAR - The deputy head of Myanmar's election commission was shot dead in Yangon on Saturday by rebel fighters, the military said, in the latest killing of a high-profile individual linked to the country's junta.

Myanmar's military has led a bloody crackdown on dissent after seizing power in a coup more than two years ago, sparking social unrest and an economic crisis.

Self-declared civilian 'People's Defense Forces' have sprung up in opposition to the junta, with their fighters targeting officials perceived to be working with the military.

Deputy director Sai Kyaw Thu of the Union Election Commission was shot dead in the township of Thingangyun in eastern Yangon, the army's information team said in a statement.

It said anti-coup 'People's Defense Forces' were responsible but did not give further details.

The military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in February 2021 over unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in elections the previous year.

It has tasked the junta-stacked election commission with holding fresh polls, which opponents of the military say cannot possibly be free or fair.

Last month the commission dissolved Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party over its failure to re-register under tough new military-drafted electoral rules.

Myanmar's main military-backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, has registered, state media reported Friday.

The group was trounced by Suu Kyi's NLD at elections in 1990, 2015 and 2020.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military's power grab, which sparked renewed fighting with ethnic rebels and birthed dozens of opposition groups now battling the military.

Across the country, there are almost daily killings of low-level junta officials or alleged informers, with details murky and reprisals from the military often following quickly.

In April last year the deputy governor of Myanmar's central bank, who was appointed by the military days after it seized power, was shot by unknown assailants at her house in Yangon.

In November 2021 a top executive from Mytel - a telecoms venture between the military and Vietnamese firm Viettel - was gunned down outside his Yangon home.