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Myanmar rebels say they shot down a helicopter that killed a pro-junta official

A view shows a Tatmadaw helicopter crashing after being shot down in Conlau, Myanmar, on May 3, 2021, in this still image obtained from a video on social media by REUTERS.

An ethnic rebel group in Myanmar said it shot down a military helicopter on Monday as fighting in the country’s northern and eastern border regions intensified after an army coup.

Internal media also reported that the local administrator, appointed by the junta, was stabbed to death in the capital Yangon.

Violence has escalated since the February 1 coup, with at least 766 civilians reportedly killed by security forces and a growing confrontation with ethnic armies on the outskirts of Myanmar and junta opponents in cities and the province.

The United Nations estimates that tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes to avoid fighting between the military and rebels on the border.

Kachin’s Independence Army said the helicopter was shot down around 10:20 a.m. in a village near the town of Moemauk in Kachin province after days of airstrikes.

“The military council launched air strikes in the area at about 8 or 9 this morning … with the help of jet fighters, and also fired with the help of a helicopter, so we responded against them,” spokesman Nau Boo said by telephone.

He declined to say what weapons were used.

New portals MizzimaDaily and Kachinwaves also reported the downing of the helicopter to photos showing a stream of smoke coming from the ground.

A resident of the area, who declined to be named, said by phone that four people died at a hospital after artillery shells hit a monastery in the village.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports, and a military spokesman did not answer a phone call seeking comment.

Myanmar is in turmoil after a coup toppled elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with almost daily protests against military rule across the country.

In another sign of growing insecurity, the junta-appointed head of the Yangetta department’s administrative office in Yangon was stabbed in his office and later died of his wounds, Khit Thit Media reported. Two residents of the district confirmed the report.

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

An advocacy group for the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners says security forces have killed at least 765 civilians since the coup. The junta disputes the figure, saying at least 24 members of the security forces were killed during the protests.

The military said it should seize power because its allegations of fraud in the November election, won by Suu Kyi’s party, were not considered by an election commission that considered it a fair vote.

Suu Kyi, 75, was detained after the coup along with many other members of her party.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.

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