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Brunei
Friday, February 3, 2023
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Friday, February 3, 2023
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    Myanmar violence escalates with rise of ‘self-defence’ groups

    YANGON (AFP) – Violence in post-coup Myanmar has escalated as anti-junta “self-defence” forces step up to take on the military, a report said yesterday, warning of an “enormous” human cost if the regime uses its full power in subsequent crackdowns.

    Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, with more than 880 killed in a junta crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

    In some areas, locals – often using hunting rifles or weapons manufactured at makeshift jungle factories – have formed “defence forces” to fight back.

    In response, the military has used helicopters and artillery, including against groups in northwestern Chin state and along the eastern border with Thailand.

    “Faced with armed insurrection, the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military) can be expected to unleash its military might against civilians,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) said yesterday.

    Protesters during a flash mob demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. PHOTO: AFP

    “The human cost will be enormous – particularly for women, children and the elderly, who face the greatest hardships from violence and displacement.”

    Clashes have taken place in areas that have not seen conflict for decades, forcing humanitarian agencies into a race to set up new operations and supply lines, the ICG said.

    An estimated 230,000 people have already been displaced by fighting and insecurity so far, the United Nations (UN) said last week.

    The self-defence groups add to the volatile mix in the poor Southeast Asian country, where more than 20 ethnic rebel groups were already in various stages of the conflict with the state before the coup.

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