Burmese rebels say they shot down military helicopter

The Kachin Independence Army said the helicopter was shot down in retaliation for earlier airstrikes in Kachin province.

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

The Army’s demand for Kachin Independence came as protests against Myanmar’s military government continued in Kachin State and elsewhere in the country. It would be the first plane shot down in recent hostilities between the government and armed groups.

Myanmar military leaders made no immediate comment on the reports, which could not be independently verified.

Violence has escalated since the February 1 coup, with at least 766 civilians killed by security forces and a growing confrontation with armed groups on Myanmar’s fringes and military opponents in towns and countryside.

The United Nations estimates that tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes to escape fighting between the military and armed groups based along the border.

The Kachin Independence Army said the helicopter was shot down in the morning in a village near the town of Momauk, in Kachin province, following days of air raids.

“The military council has been launching airstrikes in this area since about 8 or 9 this morning… using jet fighters and also fired from a helicopter, so we fired at them. on it, ”spokesman Naw Bu said over the phone.

News portals MizzimaDaily and Kachinwaves also reported the helicopter crashing alongside photographs showing a plume of smoke coming from the ground.

A video on social media believed to be of the helicopter shows, from a great distance, a plane diving as the sound of heavy weapons is heard. As the helicopter continues a steep descent, it appears to catch fire and leave a trail of smoke.

Scott Heidler of Al Jazeera, Bangkok, Thailand, said the rebels were “one of the largest and most powerful armed groups” in Myanmar.

“There are many different groups, but the Kachin Independence Army is one that has sort of engaged in heavier, more frequent battles with the military since the coup of the 1st. February, “he said.

“They said it was retaliation for the airstrikes that happened on the night from Sunday to Monday, and then also on Monday morning. They said they retaliated because the involved helicopter was attacking their positions.

A local resident, who declined to be named, said by phone that four people died in hospital after artillery shells hit a monastery in the village, Reuters news agency reported .

Local administrator slain

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

In another sign of growing insecurity, the army-appointed chief of the parish administration office in Yangon’s Tharketa district was stabbed in his office and later died from his injuries, said said Khit Thit Media. Two residents of the neighborhood confirmed the report, according to Reuters.

The Political Prisoners Assistance Association, which tracks deaths and arrests, said at least five civilians were killed on Sunday in what protesters said was the day of Myanmar’s Spring World Revolution. Security forces have often used lethal force to disperse protests.

The organization said security forces have now killed 765 protesters and passers-by.

Protesters give a three-fingered salute as they participate in a flash mob as part of the protests against the military coup on ‘Myanmar Spring World Revolution Day’ in Yangon, Myanmar [AFPTV/AFP]

According to the ruling military government, the death toll is about a third of that figure. He says his actions are justified to end what he calls the riots.

The military has also continued targeted arrests of activists and others it sees as behind the resistance movement.

The Assistance Association says 3,555 people have been arrested since the army took power. About forty journalists are among the detainees.

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