A volunteer ambulance worker has been killed and several others injured during fighting between separatist rebels and government forces in northern Myanmar.
The rescue workers were about 20km from Lashio, the largest town in Shan State, where armed groups have been fighting for greater autonomy from the central government when their convoy came under attack on Saturday.
The vehicle from a local philanthropy group came under assault by sniper and artillery fire, the state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
The attack killed 58-year-old driver Tun Myint, his wife Tin Tin Aye told AFP news agency.
“The car was hit when they were trying to turn back from the mission because of intense fighting,” she said.
A video circulating online that could not be independently verified showed an overturned ambulance on the side of a road and workers frantically transferring a limp body to another vehicle.
The area around Lashio is crisscrossed by a patchwork of rebel groups fighting the military for more autonomy and control over land and resources.
It is also home to what experts believe to be the world’s largest methamphetamine-producing region, increasing a complex web of conflict.
Tensions in the region have risen since Thursday, when the Northern Alliance rebels staged attacks, including on an elite army college that killed more than a dozen people, mostly security forces personnel.
Army spokesman Tun Tun Nyi said rebels attacked a petrol station and a bridge in another location on Saturday morning, and rescue workers were travelling there when they were attacked.
The Myanmar army said this weeks’ attacks were retaliation for a large drug seizure made in July.
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi came to power following a landslide election win in late 2016, vowing to prioritise peace talks between ethnic armed groups, the military and civilian government.
But the conflict has escalated in northern Kachin and Shan states as well as the western Rakhine region on the border with Bangladesh.