19 dead in fighting between army and rebels — Myanmar military

Those fleeing violence have sheltered in tents and even churches in Kachin which is mainly Christian as rights groups accuse the military of blocking aid

Those fleeing violence have sheltered in tents and even churches in Kachin which is mainly Christian as rights groups accuse the military of blocking aid

An ethnic rebel group fighting Burma's government attacked the military in a northern town Saturday, leaving at least 15 people dead and 20 injured, including civilians, officials said.

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has so far failed to fulfill her top priority of achieving peace with ethnic minority insurgents.

Myanmar's military frequently clashes with several groups who say they are fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic minorities in the area, through which much of Myanmar's foreign trade flows.

Pictures of burned out vehicles and armed men running for cover spread quickly on social media. The sound of automatic gunfire filled the air as ambulances picked up the wounded.

The attack began early Saturday and lasted about three hours, beginning on the outskirts of the town of Muse in Shan State then moving into its outskirts, said Sai Kyaw Thein, a member of Parliament from Muse. About 32 people, including 27 civilians, three policemen, and two local paramilitary troopers were injured in the attack.

Violence on the Myanmar side of the border has in recent years sent thousands fleeing through the rugged mountain terrain into China, where the Chinese government at times has set up relief camps. Two of the attacks occurred at military bases and the other at a bridge. "This is a terrorist attack".

L Soe Htan Tu, a spokesman for the government in Muse, confirmed that at least 20 people had been brought to Muse's main hospital with serious injuries, but said he didn't know how many were dead.

"The militia are protecting the casinos - those casinos are the gateway for distributing drugs". It has to conduct minor military operations due to the deployment of large number of troops by Tatmadaw and intensified offensive attacks on its ally, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). "We feel sorry for civilian deaths".

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