Burmese junta attacks western town that resisted coup


BANGKOK – U.S. and British Embassies in Burma have expressed concern over reports of fierce government attacks on a city in Western Chin State, where the ruling junta declared martial law due to resistance army under military rule.

Fighting began around 6 a.m. on Saturday when helicopter-backed government troops began bombing the western part of Mindat town, destroying several homes, a Chinland Defense Force spokesperson said. It was a locally formed militia opposed to the February coup that overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Helicopters also participated in the attack, according to the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

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“The city of Mindat is now under siege and is preparing for a full assault by junta troops by air and land,” said a statement from the Chin Human Rights organization.

The shadow government of national unity, put in place by lawmakers who have been barred by the military from taking their seats in parliament, warned that “in the next 48 hours, Mindat has the potential to become a battleground and thousands people are at risk of being displaced. “Many have already left the city of about 50,000 inhabitants, said a resident contacted by phone who was also on the run.

Anti-coup protesters give three-finger salutes during a protest in Yangon, Burma on Friday, May 14, 2021 (AP Photo)

Anti-coup protesters give three-finger salutes during a protest in Yangon, Burma on Friday, May 14, 2021 (AP Photo)

The Mindat County People’s Administration, another opposition group, claimed 15 young men were seized by government troops and used as human shields. He said at least five city defenders were killed in clashes and at least 10 others injured.

None of these details could be independently verified, but a Burmese state television broadcast on Saturday night reported that fighting was ongoing and acknowledged that defenders of the city had put up fierce resistance to it. ‘army.

“The military’s use of weapons of war against civilians, including this week in Mindat, is yet another demonstration of the depths into which the regime will sink to retain power,” the British Embassy said on Twitter . “We call on the military to stop violence against civilians.”

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The US Embassy said it was “aware of the increase in violence in Mindat, including reports of soldiers shooting at civilians,” and called for evidence of atrocities to be sent. to UN investigators.

Detailed counts compiled by several different watch groups indicate that government security forces killed more than 750 protesters and passers-by as they tried to quell opposition to the military takeover. In April, security forces were accused of killing more than 80 people in one day to destroy street barricades militants erected as strongholds in the town of Bago.

In many, if not most, cases, police and soldiers attempted to break up peaceful protests, but by increasing the use of lethal force, some protesters retaliated in self-defense. In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in small-scale bombardments in many towns, mostly causing little damage and few casualties.

The junta says the death toll is less than 300 and that the use of force was justified to end what it calls riots.

Anti-coup protesters fly a National League for Democracy (NLD) party flag during a protest in Yangon, Burma on Friday, May 14, 2021 (AP Photo)

Anti-coup protesters fly a National League for Democracy (NLD) party flag during a protest in Yangon, Burma on Friday, May 14, 2021 (AP Photo)

Mindat’s resistance fighters are only lightly armed, mostly with a traditional type of single shot shotgun, but the territory around the town is mountainous and forested, favoring defenders over attackers.

The state television MRTV report listed past attacks on government forces and facilities, most recent on Thursday, when it claimed a force of around 100 security forces blocked from entering the city, destroying a vehicle and leaving an unknown number of dead and missing security forces. .

In a subsequent attack, he said, an even larger force allegedly launched an attack from the city against security forces patrolling nearby, destroying six vehicles and claiming an unknown number of government casualties.

The opposition government announced earlier this month a plan to unify groups such as the Chinland Defense Force into a national “People’s Defense Force”, which would serve as a precursor to a “Federal Union Army” of forces. democratic including ethnic minorities.

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Khin Ma Ma Myo, deputy defense minister of the shadow government, said that one of the tasks of the People’s Defense Forces is to protect the resistance movement from military attacks and violence provoked by the junta.

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