Myanmar insurgents launch deadly attack as 'casino reprisal'

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

Four members of the security forces were among the dead in the most deadly flare-up in recent years.

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.

Of the 18 civilians killed in the attack that began at 5 a.m., 16 were men and two were women, said Zaw Htay.

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

"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 Major Mai Aik Kyaw told AFP, citing two of the towns in northern Shan where the clashes occurred.

Images and video from the skirmishes shared on social media showed armed men fanning out across a residential street while a rebel soldier took cover behind a auto.


The government asserts the attackers are insurgents from 2 ethnic minority groups.

Aye Myint, a police officer in Muse, said the death toll was 19, and that rebel fighters used small arms as well as mortars. An unknown number of Chinese and Myanmar nationals had fled into China, he added.

"This is not the ethnic rights movement", said government spokesperson, Zaw Htay. "It is just a destructive terrorist act".

"The militia are protecting the casinos - those casinos are the gateway for distributing drugs".

"We fight because of thorough fighting in our region and the serious offensive in Kachin state", he said, referring to fresh confrontations in Myanmar's northernmost state between the army and the TNLA-aligned Kachin Independence Army.

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