June 22 (Reuters) – Burmese security forces backed by armored vehicles clashed with a newly formed militia in the second largest city of Mandalay on Tuesday, killing at least two, according to group members and media.
Since the military seized power on February 1 and overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, security forces have cracked down on protests against the military regime. In response, groups of coup opponents known as the People’s Defense Forces have sprung up across Myanmar.
So far, fighting involving lightly armed militias has mostly been confined to small towns and rural areas, but a group claiming to be the new Mandalay People’s Defense Force said its members responded after the military. attacked one of its bases.
“The fighting has started. There will be more fighting,” a militia member identified as Captain Tun Tauk Naing said by telephone.
The sound of repeated gunfire could be heard in video footage taken by a local resident.
About 20 soldiers raid the group, triggering a shootout with the military which deployed three armored cars to the area, Myanmar Now reported.
Another militia official told the Mizzima news portal that six of its members were arrested and two soldiers were killed.
A junta spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.
Army-owned Myawaddy Television (MWD), in a report on its Telegram message channel, said security forces raided a house and “armed terrorists” responded with small arms and bombs.
He said four “terrorists” had been killed and eight arrested while some security forces were seriously injured.
Myanmar’s military rulers called a shadow government of national unity opposed to the junta a terrorist group and accused it of bombings, arson and murder.
In previous incidents in other parts of Myanmar, the military responded with artillery and airstrikes after militias launched attacks on soldiers, killing both sides and tens of thousands of people. people displaced from their homes.
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday called for a halt to the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to respect the November election results and release political detainees, including Suu Kyi.
Myanmar’s foreign ministry on Saturday released a statement rejecting the UN resolution, which it said was “based on radical one-sided claims and false assumptions.”
Security forces have killed at least 873 protesters since the coup, according to the activist group of the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. The junta disputes this figure.
Reporting by Reuters staff Editing by Ed Davies Editing by Robert Birsel
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