BANGKOK (AFP) – Heavy fighting between rebels and the Myanmar military stretched into a second day near the country’s northern border with China, armed groups said yesterday.
Myanmar’s junta seized power in a February 2021 coup that sparked renewed fighting with powerful ethnic rebel groups in northern Shan state.
An alliance of ethnic rebel groups launched coordinated attacks on military positions across the country’s north on Friday, posing a fresh challenge to the junta as it struggles to quell resistance to its rule.
The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army said yesterday it had seized three military outposts – two located close to Mongko near the border with China.
The rebels also ambushed a group of soldiers coming from Hopang and seized military equipment.
The group did not provide details of fatalities.
The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) said yesterday it had so far seized three military outposts at Namhkam and 18 soldiers were killed. The group also said it had taken two military outposts at Lashio and netted a haul of military equipment.
The military deployed a fighter jet and helicopter gunship to Lashio, the TNLA statement said.
Overnight, there was heavy shelling for seven hours near Lashio, a local rescue worker said, adding the fighting had died down yesterday.
Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told local media on Friday that rebels had attacked military positions in the Chinshwehaw, Laukkai, and Kunlong areas and some outposts were lost.
“We tried to maintain peace and stability in north Shan, but insurgents tried to destroy stability,” he said.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was “closely following” the fighting and called on all sides to prevent the situation from escalating.
Shan state has been earmarked for a proposed billion-dollar rail link under China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure project.