Myanmar anti-coup insurgents seize police post, kill security forces

Reuters
Naypyitaw, Myanmar Published: May 23, 2021, 03:52 PM(IST)

Myanmar in turmoil (file photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A police vehicle was shown in flames as dozens of fighters milled at the scene

Fighters opposed to Myanmar's military junta seized a police station in the eastern town of Mobye on Sunday and claimed to have killed at least 13 members of the security forces and captured four, local media said.

Videos shared on social media showed what appeared to be the dead bodies of security forces in the latest attack of a general upsurge of conflict in parts of Myanmar since the Feb. 1 coup that overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Also Read | Myanmar displaced shelter in camps in border state, France calls for aid

A gun battle also erupted near the Chinese border early on Sunday, while on Saturday an armed ethnic group opposed to the coup launched an attack on a jade mining town on the other side of Myanmar, near India.

Video from Mobye showed bodies in the uniforms of the security forces, while other pictures showed four men who were said to be police with their hands behind their backs and blindfolded with surgical masks.

A police vehicle was shown in flames as dozens of fighters milled at the scene.

Reuters was unable to reach a junta spokesman or to independently confirm the video or the accounts of the fighting.

Also Read | Myanmar junta threatens to dissolve Suu Kyi's party over election fraud

The Irrawaddy news outlet quoted a fighter from the local People's Defence Force as saying the police station had been set on fire and that two civilians had been wounded in the fighting. Reports from other media said up to 15 members of the security forces had been killed.

Mobye is around 100 km (60 miles) east of the capital Naypyidaw but lies near territory held by some of the ethnic armed groups that have fought for greater autonomy for decades.

An alliance of four ethnic groups opposing the coup battled early on Sunday with security forces in Muse, one of the main border crossings to China, Myanmar media said.

Also Read | More than 125,000 Myanmar teachers suspended for opposing coup

Since the army took power, local People's Defence Forces have also sprung up to oppose the junta - often armed with shotguns and homemade weapons. The video from Mobye showed at least one fighter firing an assault rifle.

While the junta is struggling with renewed conflict on several fronts, it also faces daily protests and strikes that have paralysed hospitals, schools and much private business.

Teachers Suspended

More than 125,000 school teachers - nearly a third of the total - have been suspended for joining a civil disobedience movement to oppose the coup, an official of the Myanmar Teachers' Federation said.

At least 815 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

The junta disputes that figure. Its leader, Min Aung Hlaing, said in comments broadcast on Saturday that 300 people had been killed in addition to 47 police.

Protesters also demand the release of nearly 4,300 people who have been arrested since the coup, including Suu Kyi, 75.

Min Aung Hlaing said Suu Kyi was healthy and would soon appear in court. Her next hearing is on Monday on some of the many charges brought against her, which range from illegal possession of walkie-talkie radios to breaching a state secrets law.

Also Read | Aung San Suu Kyi will appear soon, says Myanmar's military junta leader

 

The army seized power claiming fraud in a general election won by Suu Kyi's party in November. Its accusations had been dismissed by the former electoral commission, dozens of whose officials are now locked up.

In further comments from an interview released by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television on Sunday, Min Aung Hlaing sought to reassure Chinese businesses after some factories were set ablaze recently in the commercial capital Yangon.

"Our citizens are not being anti-China but it's the politics that cause the hatred," he said.

Some opponents of the coup have accused China of supporting the junta, which has been condemned by Western countries that have introduced limited sanctions. China has been milder in its approach and has said it seeks stability in its neighbour.

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