BANGKOK (AP) — Five men robbed a bank in Yangon on Friday, in at least the third major bank heist in Myanmar's largest city in just over three months, the military-installed government said,
The government blamed the previous robberies on opposition groups opposed to military rule, though none is known to have claimed responsibility.
Friday’s robbery, in which 313,910,000 kyats (about $157,000) was reported stolen, took place at a KBZ Bank branch in a shopping mall in Yangon’s Botahtaung neighborhood, the government's information team said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of People Media, an online news site.
KBZ, also known as Kanbawza Bank, is a private commercial bank and has the largest number of branches in the country.
There is widespread opposition to the military's ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February. Opponents initially staged peaceful protests but confrontations have escalated after authorities used deadly force to quell the demonstrations.
A low-level insurgency is occurring in many parts of the country, with opponents of the military employing violence in self-defense and in targeted killings and sabotage.
Banks are generally unpopular with opponents of military rule because they are seen as helping to prop it up with measures such as strict currency controls. The economy has nosedived since the army takeover, due in part to general unrest, a civil disobedience movement and foreign sanctions targeting the military and its cronies.
Two branches of the government-owned Global Treasure Bank in Yangon were robbed in July and August. At least seven people were arrested in September in connection with those incidents.
The government’s information team said the seven stole more than 100 million kyats ($68,000) which was used to fund anti-government militants in Yangon and buy ammunition for them.
The government said Friday’s robbers arrived in a white Toyota sedan and beat a guard and wielded pistols before seizing the money and fleeing.
A woman who was making a withdrawal from the bank said the robbery lasted about 10 minutes. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for her safety, said the robbers forced those inside the bank to close their eyes and lie on the floor, and seized the cellphones of customers and staff. There were no shots fired, she said.