• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Armed group shoots down Myanmar army helicopter


Jan 4, 2024


An ethnic minority armed group that is battling Myanmar’s military government has said they shot down a helicopter believed to be on a resupply mission in a combat zone in the northern state of Kachin.

The helicopter was shot down soon after taking off from an army outpost to return to its base in Myitkyina township, the state’s capital, around 1820 GMT, Col. Naw Bu, a spokesperson for the Kachin Independence Army, told an international media outlet on Wednesday.

An independent online news outlet supportive of the Kachin Independence Army, Khit Thit Media, reported late Wednesday that six soldiers aboard the aircraft had been killed and one survived, but other reports said seven had died. Khit Thit also published photos of battered bodies in military uniforms and charred corpses purportedly from the crash site.

Myanmar’s military, which came to power in February 2021 after seizing power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, has been battling pro-democracy “resistance” forces loosely allied with armed ethnic minority groups seeking greater autonomy.

There was no immediate comment from the military government about the helicopter claim. A spokesperson for Kachin Human Rights Watch, who asked to be identified only by his first name Jacob for fear of being arrested by the military, said the group’s members in the area had confirmed to him that a helicopter had crashed there.

Naw Bu said the aircraft crashed near the Nahpaw army outpost, close to Nam San Yang village in Waing Maw township, which is about 390 kilometres northeast of Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city.

The military government has control of air space and frequently carries out bombing and strafing missions against which ‘resistance’ forces have little effective defence. The raids frequently cause civilian casualties.

In October 2022, air strikes killed as many as 80 people, including members of the Kachin Independence Army, guests and entertainers at the group’s anniversary celebration in a remote mountainous area in Kachin’s Hpakant township.

About a year later, the military was accused of carrying out an air strike that killed about 30 people, including about a dozen children, in a camp for displaced persons in Laiza, a town that also hosts the Kachin Independence Army headquarters.

The Kachin Independence Army, which is better armed and has more combat experience than other ethnic armed groups, in May 2021 claimed to have shot down another military helicopter.


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