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Six anti-coup armed fighters killed in Myanmar clashes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Police search for protesters who had been taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on May 15, 2021. / AFP / STR

At least six armed fighters have been killed after days of clashes with the military in northwestern Myanmar amid anti-coup protests that have sparked fears of a civil war in the Southeast Asian country.

Recent media reports said that Myanmar’s army had attacked fighters of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) in the northwestern town of Mindat, in what was described as “some of the heaviest” rounds of fighting with local armed groups opposing the military coup.

 In a statement released on Sunday, the CDF confirmed that six of its fighters lost their lives during violent clashes over the past few hours across the troubled region.

"Six members of our CDF who tried to protect the security of the people in Mindat attacked (junta forces) and sacrificed their lives for the national revolution," the statement read.

A spokesman for the group also said over 10 members had been wounded during the fierce battles, while five Mindat residents were arrested by the military.

He said CDF fighters set fire to several army trucks, destroying them, and ambushed reinforcement troops, while the military has attacked the town with artillery.

By Sunday, the CDF had retreated into the jungle, the spokesman said. "We will not stay anymore in the town... but we will come back to attack soon," he said. "We only have homemade guns. This was not enough."

He added that residents remaining in Mindat were afraid to leave their homes for fear of being targeted by the military.

The town and its surroundings have been under martial law since Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday that a military tribunal would be convened to try "perpetrators of terrorist attacks" in Mindat.

Security forces saw multiple attacks which left one man dead, said the newspaper, and an ambush on Friday by "1,000 rioters" killed some soldiers.

The junta has been ruling Myanmar since February 1, when it ousted the civilian government of de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup.

Defying the junta, people have been protesting on the streets, calling for the release of the deposed leader and other politicians and the restoration of civilian rule.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group, at least 796 people have been killed in the military crackdown.

Thousands have also been arrested, including nearly 4,000 people who have been sentenced or are in detention.

Many ethnic groups, who have maintained their own forces for decades, have been supporting the NUG, the so-called National Unity Government set up last month by an array of groups opposed to the military junta.


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