Myanmar junta used helicopters in raid on anti-coup fighters: Spokesman

AFP , Monday 20 Dec 2021

Myanmar junta troops launched a helicopter raid on anti-coup fighters in a restive region, locals and a spokesman said Monday, as the military struggles to break resistance to its rule.

Pro-democracy protesters hold a flash mob rally to protest against Myanmar s military-installed government, at Kyauktada township in Yangon, Myanmar Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. AP

Anti-junta militias have sprung up across Myanmar to fight back after the February coup and a crackdown on dissent that a local monitoring group says has killed more than 1,300 people.

These "people's defence forces" (PDFs) have surprised the army with their effectiveness, analysts have said, dragging the junta into a bloody stalemate.

On Friday, junta troops launched a raid on a PDF meeting in the country's central Sagaing region using helicopters and jet fighters, locals said.

Two helicopters landed and deployed troops, said a Hnan Khar village resident who did not want to be named, adding that a jet had strafed a building.

Another local told AFP the military used five helicopters in the attack and that troops had fired on the village of around 6,000 people from the air.

Troops killed two PDF leaders and seven civilians after they disembarked, one of them added.

AFP was unable to verify the reports.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed the military had used helicopters in the raid, without saying how they were used.

He said he had no casualty figures.

The military typically calls on helicopters and airborne assaults when ground troops have struggled, analysts have said.

In May the Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic rebel group in the country's far north, said it downed a military helicopter gunship during fierce clashes near the town of Momauk.

Sagaing has seen regular clashes and increasingly bloody reprisals.

Earlier this month the United States and United Nations condemned the junta over what Washington described as "credible and sickening" reports of the killing of 11 villagers, including children.

The statements came as local media and residents said that soldiers seized 11 people from Dontaw village following mine and bomb attacks on a military convoy a day earlier.

The junta has dismissed the claims.

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