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Myanmar insurgents say they sunk helicopter, pro-junta official killed

A view shows a Tatmadaw helicopter crashing after being shot down in Konlaw, Myanmar, on May 3, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video by REUTERS.

An ethnic rebel group in Myanmar said it had shot down a military helicopter on Monday as fighting in the country’s northern and eastern border areas intensified following an army coup.

Domestic media also reported that a junta-appointed local administrator had been stabbed to death in the capital, Yangon.

Violence has risen since the February 1 coup, in which at least 766 civilians were reported killed by security forces and growing confrontation with ethnic armies on the outskirts of Myanmar and junta opponents in the cities and in the countryside.

The UN estimates that tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes to escape fighting between the military and insurgents based along the border.

Kachin’s independence army said the helicopter was shot down around noon. 10:20 a.m. at a village near the town of Moemauk in Kachin province after days of airstrikes.

“The military council launched airstrikes in this area since about 8 or 9 this morning … using fighter jets and also fired shots using a helicopter, so we fired back at them,” spokesman Naw Bu said by telephone.

He refused to say what weapons were used.

News portals MizzimaDaily and Kachinwaves also reported that the helicopter crashed next to photographs showing a smoke nozzle coming from the ground.

A resident of the area, who refused to be named, said by telephone that four people had died at the hospital after artillery shells hit a monastery in the village.

Reuters could not independently confirm the reports, and a military spokesman did not answer a phone call requesting comment.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi with almost daily protests against military rule across the country.

In another sign of growing insecurity, the junta-appointed head of the branch office in Yangon’s Tharketa district was stabbed to his office and later died of his wounds, Khit Thit Media said. Two residents of the district confirmed the report.

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group says security forces have killed at least 765 civilians since the coup. The junta disputes the figure, saying at least 24 members of security forces were killed during the protests.

The military said it had to seize power because its complaints about fraud in an November election won by Suu Kyi’s party were not addressed by an electoral commission that considered the vote fair.

Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained since the coup along with many other members of her party.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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