Poet turned militia leader Maung Saungkha, one of the most prominent figures fighting for democracy in Myanmar, says his armed group plans to start carving out territory in the country's heartlands to confront the junta more directly.

Maung Saungkha said the move is a key strategic aim for his Bamar People's Liberation Army (BPLA) — a militia formed in the wake of the junta's February 2021 coup — now that it has gained training from allies and battle experience in the country's borderlands.

Most BPLA members are Buddhist Bamars, the ethnic group that accounts for two-thirds of the population and dominates central Myanmar where government institutions are based.