YANGON: Myanmar ethnic rebels have killed at least 23 government soldiers in days of fighting near the Chinese border, a spokesman for the group said on Friday, in the latest clashes likely to worry powerful neighbour Beijing.

The country has been in turmoil since a military coup in February, which sparked huge pro-democracy protests, a bloody crackdown and renewed fighting in ethnic border areas.

Clashes broke out in Mongko, Shan state, on August 28 when troops tried to seize a base from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the group’s spokesman and local media reports said.

“They came to take our base. They were hurt a lot as we were waiting at the top of the mountain and they were at the bottom. We shot them as they were coming,” an MNDAA spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Fifteen soldiers were killed on August 28 and eight more in renewed clashes on September 1, he said, adding one MNDAA fighter had been killed.

AFP has not been able to verify the casualty figures.

The military said Monday an officer and an undisclosed number of personnel from other ranks were killed in fighting with the MNDAA in Mongko on August 28.

It did not respond to questions on the alleged later clashes.

Myanmar has more than 20 ethnic rebel groups, many of which hold territory in the country’s border regions.

A messy struggle over autonomy, as well as control of lucrative drug production and natural resources, has long pitted them against each other and the military.

Video published last month by Chinese state media CGTN claimed to show the military fighting the Kachin Independence Army — another group that operates in northern Shan state — and “several other ethnic armed groups”.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Breaking the deadlock
09 Dec, 2022

Breaking the deadlock

It is time for PDM and PTI to show flexibility and realise that the future of over 240m people is at stake.
A targeted killing
09 Dec, 2022

A targeted killing

IF there were any doubts about a sinister, transnational plot to kill journalist Arshad Sharif, the 592-page report...
Dog-bite epidemic
09 Dec, 2022

Dog-bite epidemic

AN exploding population of stray canines has fuelled a dog-bite epidemic in Sindh, with the provincial health...
Worsening hunger
Updated 08 Dec, 2022

Worsening hunger

THAT the dollar liquidity crunch has started hurting the import of essential items such as vegetables and raw...
Bannu beheading
Updated 08 Dec, 2022

Bannu beheading

The state must take up the cudgels and neutralise barbarism before it spreads.
Smog misery
08 Dec, 2022

Smog misery

IF 2022 has taught us anything, it is that generations of reckless disregard for Mother Nature has accrued very ...