At Least 20 Dead In Myanmar As Junta Troops Clash With Ruling Military

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Military spokesman Zhao Min Tun confirmed that fighting had taken place at Magway.

Clashes between militias and Myanmar’s ruling military have killed at least 20 people, an eyewitness and local media reported Friday, with junta opponents in the deadliest violence since calling for a “people’s defensive war” this week.

The National Government (NUG), formed to prevent the army’s February 1 acquisition of the country for rebellion against military rule, was formed in an apparent effort to coordinate groups fighting the army and persuade soldiers and state officials to change sides.

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Myanmar has been in turmoil since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which ended a decade of temporary democracy and sparked nationwide anger, strikes and demonstrations, and the rise of militia groups that attacked security forces.

Clashes between the army and defense volunteers in alliance with the unity government in Mian Thar village since Thursday have resulted in casualties between local militias and villagers after the army used heavy artillery.

“They fired cannons, they burned down houses in our village,” said a 2-year-old resident.

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“I lost everything I had … I will not forgive them until the end of the world,” he told Reuters by phone as he struggled to identify his son among the corpses.

According to the BBC Burmese, 10 people have been killed in a mine blast in the Magway region of central Myanmar, and 117 people, including minors, have been killed on the Irrawaddy news website.

Military spokesman Zhao Min Tun confirmed that fighting had taken place at Magway. The spokesman did not respond to Reuters calls for comment.

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Myanmar’s neighbors have called for restraint on all sides after the shadow government called for nationwide retaliation. Some analysts have warned that the move could jeopardize the opposition’s efforts to win international support.

Irrawaddy also reported the killing of three soldiers in the largest city, Yangon, on Thursday.

Clashes began on Thursday and continued late Friday night in Thantlang, a Chinese state bordering India, the news report said.

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According to Radio Free Asia and Mizima News Service, the army carried out air strikes. No casualties were immediately reported.

The NUG’s defense minister did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the incident on Thursday and Friday.

Reuters could not verify reports of clashes, which state-run MRTV did not mention in its nightly news bulletin.

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The military strictly controls information and its media plays an electoral role in reporting unrest.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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