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Iran Press TV

Myanmar rebels claim military helicopter downing amid crackdown

Iran Press TV

Monday, 03 May 2021 9:43 AM

A rebel group in Myanmar, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has said it shot down a military helicopter firing on one of its strongholds.

Head of KIA's information department, Naw Bu, said on Monday that the helicopter was shot down around 10:20 am local time (GMT03:50) at a village near the town of Moemauk in the northern Kachin province.

"The military council launched air strikes in that area since around 8 or 9 this morning ... using jet fighters and also fired shots using a helicopter so we shot back at them," he told Reuters by telephone.

The news agency, however, said it could not independently verify the downing of the helicopter.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the junta seized power on February 1, ousting the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Protests have been held on an almost daily basis against military rule across the country.

On Sunday, Myanmar security forces opened fire on some of the biggest protests in days, killing eight people, media reported.

The protests, after a spell of dwindling rallies and what appeared to be more restraint by the security forces, were coordinated with demonstrations in Myanmar communities around the world to mark what organizers called "the global Myanmar spring revolution."

"Shake the world with the voice of Myanmar people's unity," the organizers said in a statement.

"To bring down the military dictatorship is our cause!" the protesters chanted, waving a three-finger salute of resistance.

Local media reported that security forces were chasing protesters down and arresting them.

Bomb blasts also went off across different parts of Yangon on Sunday. Explosions have been happening with increasing frequency in the former capital, and the junta has blamed them on "instigators."

So far, security forces have killed 759 civilians, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The junta -- which has labeled the AAPP an unlawful organization -- says 258 protesters have been killed, along with 17 policemen and seven soldiers.

Elsewhere, clashes were reported in Karen state between the military and the Karen National Union (KNU) fighters in the country's border regions.

KNU has admitted to offering shelter to fleeing activists in the territory it controls along Myanmar's east.

The junta had ordered artillery fire and airstrikes on KNU strongholds in the towns next to the Thai border.

Thai authorities said Myanmar's military fired rockets from the air on a KNU base on Saturday, and gunfire could be heard from the kingdom's bordering Mae Hong Son province.

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