10 Myanmar police killed in attack by ethnic armies: Reports

Fighters from an alliance of rebel groups reportedly attack a police station in a new escalation after the military coup.

Myanmar ambulance driver
Soldiers cross a bridge in Shan state in 2019 after it was attacked by ethnic rebel groups [File: AFP]

An alliance of ethnic armies in Myanmar that has opposed the military’s crackdown on anti-coup protests has attacked a police station in the country’s east and killed at least 10 policemen, according to local media.

The police station at Naungmon in Shan state was attacked early in the morning of Saturday by fighters from an alliance that includes the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, media reported.

Shan News said at least 10 policemen were killed, while the Shwe Phee Myay news outlet put the death toll at 14.

There was no immediate comment by the military.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from neighbouring Thailand, noted the ethnic armies are some of the oldest in the world, having battled central government forces for decades.

“Since the [February 1] coup, there has been a lot of talk about armed groups operating together but we have not actually seen it before. Today it’s claimed three acted together, joined forces, attacked this outpost manned by Myanmar police, killing a number of policemen,” said Cheng.

More than 700 people have been killed by the military in the crackdown on protests against the coup, according to a monitoring group. As violence has escalated, about a dozen armed groups have condemned the coup-makers as illegitimate and pledged to stand with the protesters.

Civilian lawmakers, most of whom are in hiding after their removal, have announced plans to form a “national unity government” – with key roles for ethnic leaders – and are holding online talks about joint resistance to the generals.

Dozens of bodies

Meanwhile, reports from Myanmar said dozens of people were killed in a military assault on anti-coup protesters in the city of Bago, about 60km (32 miles) northeast of Yangon.

Independent local media and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which issues daily counts of casualties and arrests from the crackdown against protesters, put the death toll to at least 82.

The AAPP’s tallies are widely accepted as highly credible because cases are not added to their totals until they have been confirmed, with the details published on the group’s website. In its Saturday report, it said it expected the number of dead in Bago to rise as more cases were verified.

News site Myanmar Now cited a protest leader as saying dozens of bodies had been brought inside a pagoda compound where the military was based. Witnesses cited by both media outlets reported hours of gunfire that started early on Friday.

Protests against the February coup continued on Saturday in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Sagaing, Myeik and many other cities.

The military crackdown has also included reports of protesters being tortured in detention and harsh sentences.

The military issued death sentences on 19 people from Yangon’s North Okkalapa township on Friday. They were charged with beating an army captain, according to Radio Free Asia.

The military coup overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies