Men in embattled town of Mindat flee to the hills as military steps up crackdown on resistance to February 1 coup.
Myanmar’s military government leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has said deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi is healthy at home and would appear in court in a few days, in his first interview since overthrowing her in February 1 coup.
The coup has plunged the Southeast Asian country into chaos. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her long struggle against previous military rulers, is among more than 4,000 people arrested since the coup. She faces charges that range from illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios to violating a state secrets law.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is in good health. She is at her home and healthy. She is going to face trial at the court in a few days,” Min Aung Hlaing said by video link in an interview with the Hong Kong-based Chinese language broadcaster Phoenix Television on May 20, in excerpts released on Saturday.
The interviewer asked him what he thought of the performance of Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, who is widely admired in the country of 53 million for her campaign that had brought tentative democratic reforms which were cut short by the coup.
“She tried all she could,” Min Aung Hlaing responded.
He reiterated that the army had seized power because it had identified fraud in an election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in November – although its accusations were rejected by the then election commission.
He said the army would hold elections and potential changes to the constitution had been identified and would be made if they were “the people’s will”.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s next court appearance is due on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw. So far she has appeared only by video link and has yet to be allowed to speak directly to her lawyers.
The military government has cited security reasons for not allowing her to speak to her lawyers in private as the military has not established control of the country in the face of daily protests, strikes and renewed fighting with rebel groups.
The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked an army post at Hkamti township in the Sagaing region early on Saturday, the Irrawaddy and Mizzima online publications said. Pictures showed columns of dark smoke rising from the scene.
KIA spokesman Naw Bu told Reuters news agency he was aware of the attack but could give no details. Reuters was unable to reach a military spokesperson for comment.
State-run MRTV reported the attack and said three police had been wounded and others were missing. Independent broadcaster DVB said nine were captured by the KIA.
Since the coup, open conflict resumed between the army and the KIA, which has been fighting for greater autonomy for the Kachin people for some 60 years and has voiced support for anti-coup protesters.
Mizzima said the army used jets in attacks on the KIA at Hkamti, a town on the Chindwin River in a remote region rich in jade and gold about 50km (30 miles) from the border with India.
The army has carried out numerous bombing attacks on KIA positions in recent weeks and has also clashed with ethnic armies in the east and west of Myanmar.
Security forces have killed at least 815 people since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.
Min Aung Hlaing said the figure was about 300 and that 47 police had also been killed.
State-run MRTV said one policeman had been killed in an attack in eastern Kayah state on Friday.
In western Chin state, opponents of the military government said they had killed at least four members of the security forces on Friday and had buried them by the roadside. The claim could not be independently verified.
Myanmar media reported that a soldier had been killed in a shooting in the commercial hub, Yangon, on Saturday. Bomb blasts were reported there, at Pathein in the Irrawaddy delta region and at a trading zone near the border with China.