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Gunfire erupts between Myanmar junta, ethnic armed groups in border town

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)
This file image purportedly shows armed ethnic rebels in Myanmar. (Via AFP)

Myanmar's military forces have engaged in a gun battle with armed ethnic groups at a border town amid continued opposition to the junta's coup.

The fighting on Sunday between junta forces and the militants at Muse, one of the main crossing points to China, was the latest flare-up of violence since the junta seized power in a coup on February 1.

Gunfire broke out in Muse around dawn, broadcaster DVB and Khit Thit Media reported, while publishing pictures of what it said were civilian vehicles peppered with bullet holes.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Ethnic armed groups, suppressed for decades by Myanmar's military leaders, have risen -- demanding greater autonomy since anti-coup protests swept the country.

The ethnic minority groups have been joined by new groups opposed to the coup.

Meanwhile, more than 125,000 school teachers - nearly a third of Myanmar’s total - have been suspended for joining the protests and strikes carried out daily against the military rule.

An official with the teachers' federation said he had been told that charges raised against him would be dropped if he returned to work.

“These are just statements to threaten people to come back to work. If they actually fire this many people, the whole system will stop” said the official who declined to give his name.

Students, who have been at the forefront of daily protests at which hundreds of people have been killed by security forces, also said they planned to boycott classes.

“I will only go back to school if we get back democracy,” said a student who goes by one name, Lwin.

A National Unity Government, set up underground opponents of the junta, said it would do all it could to support the teachers and students.

The junta seized power over alleged fraud in the general elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi's party in November.

The allegations of fraud have been dismissed by the former electoral commission, dozens of whose officials are now locked up.

At least 815 people have been killed in the harsh clampdown by security forces.

Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing is seen alongside the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in this undated file photo.

Also, in his first interview since the coup, Myanmar's junta leader Min Aung Hlaing told Hong Kong-based Chinese language broadcaster Phoenix Television on May 20 that Suu Kyi was in good health and would appear in court in a few days. Excerpts of the interview were released on Saturday.

He said fresh elections would be held and there could be changes to the Constitutional Law, if "the people's will" was for it.

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