BBC says its Burmese reporter missing in Myanmar

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a Feb 1 coup.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a Feb 1 coup.PHOTO: AFP

YANGON (AFP) - A Burmese journalist with the BBC's Myanmar language service is "missing" after being taken away by unidentified men on Friday (March 19), the media outlet said, voicing deep concern for his safety.

"We are extremely concerned about our BBC News Burmese reporter, Aung Thura, who was taken away by unidentified men," the BBC's press team said on its verified Twitter account.

It said he disappeared around midday in the Myanmar capital, Naypyitaw, and that the BBC was doing everything it could to locate him.

"We call on the authorities to help locate him and confirm that he is safe."

Local media outlet Mizzima also said that one of its reporters, Mr Than Htike Aung, was "arrested" along with Mr Aung Thura.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a Feb 1 coup that saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi removed from power and detained.

The coup triggered a mass uprising that has seen the authorities deploy increasingly deadly force to quell dissent.

The junta has also gone after the country's press corps, revoking the licences of five independent local broadcasting services, raiding newsrooms, and arresting journalists working to cover the news.

Since the coup, more than 30 journalists have been arrested, with at least 18 still in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - a local monitoring group that tracks arrests and deaths.

Among the detained is Mr Thein Zaw, a photojournalist with the Associated Press.

Mr Thein Zaw was arrested while covering a protest in Yangon, the nation's biggest city.

He has been charged with "causing fear, spreading false news or agitating directly or indirectly a government employee".

The junta amended that related law after the coup, increasing the maximum sentence from two years in jail to three.