Rebel attack kills 19 in eastern Myanmar

Rebel attack kills 19 in eastern Myanmar

Nan Mwe Phown, a Red Cross member who was at a hospital in Muse, said the dead included 13 male civilians and two women, one of whom was pregnant, as well as several police officers.

Ethnic insurgents in Myanmar killed 19 people, including four members of the security forces, in a major attack near the main border gate with China early on Saturday, a government spokesman said.

Myanmar's troops and government aligned paramilitaries have clashed with fighters from the Ta'ang National Liberation Army in the north of the country, leaving at least 15 people dead.

Clashes in Northern Myanmar near the border with China have increased since January, as the global community pays more attention to the Rohingya refugee crisis in the West.

The conflict in the north of Myanmar has escalated over the past month and the latest attack marks a further setback for civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's stated priority of achieving peace amid a stuttering transition from full military rule.

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U Zaw Htay wrote on his facebook: "The fact that the TNLA has to carry out minor military operation as they have to suffer losses in attacks in the forest is unacceptable Attacks on civilian targets would not amount to demanding ethnic rights".

Pictures of burned out vehicles and armed men running for cover spread quickly on social media.

"Fighting took place since 5am this morning at three places: two military bases in Muse and one near a bridge on the way to Lashio town", TNLA spokesman Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said, citing two of the towns in northern Shan where the clashes occurred.

More than 100,000 displaced people now reside in camps in Kachin and Shan states since a ceasefire between the KIA and the military broke down in 2011, according to the latest United Nations statistics. Myanmar officials say an ethnic rebel group has launched an attack against the country's military in the northern town, causing casualties.

Myanmar's patchwork of ethnic groups make up around a third of the population.

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