Myanmar army battles anti-coup rebels as armed resistance grows
16 May, 2021, 12:09 pm
Myanmar’s army battled local militia fighters in the northwestern town of Mindat on Saturday, residents said, to try to quell a rebellion that has sprung up to oppose the junta which seized power in the Southeast Asian country in February.
The fighting is some of the heaviest since the coup and underlines the growing chaos as the junta struggles to impose order in the face of daily protests, strikes and sabotage attacks after it overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We are running for our lives,” one resident told Reuters from Mindat, a hill town just over 100 km (60 miles) from the border with India.
“There are around 20,000 people trapped in town, most of them are kids, old people,” the resident added. “My friend’s three nieces were hit by shrapnel. They are not even teens.”
The junta imposed martial law in Mindat on Thursday and then stepped up attacks on what it called “armed terrorists”. A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment on the fighting on Saturday.
Army-controlled Myawaddy television said around 1,000 “unscrupulous people” had attacked with small arms and homemade grenades in recent days, and that some members of the security forces were killed and others missing. It said security forces would work day and night to bring order.
Fighters of the Chinland Defence Force retreated as military reinforcements advanced with artillery bombardments and helicopter attacks, a member of a local administration set up by the junta’s opponents told Reuters by phone.
Five civilians had been killed in Mindat in the past two days, said Doctor Sasa, minister of international cooperation in a shadow National Unity Government set up to rival the junta.