Dozens of Burmese security forces were killed on Sunday, rebel fighters said after heavy fighting in the eastern fringe of the coup-stricken country.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the February coup, as the military uses deadly force to quell dissent.
The death toll among civilians has risen to at least 815 people, according to a local watch group.
The violence has prompted some members of the anti-junta movement to form a so-called “People’s Defense Force” (PDF) in their own townships – made up of civilians who fight against the security forces with homemade weapons.
There were clashes in eastern Myanmar over the weekend, particularly in the town of Demoso, Kayah state, and neighboring Shan state.
Thet Wai, a member of the People’s Defense Force – not his real name – said at least 20 police officers died on Sunday and his camp seized a police station in the town of Moebyel, in the Shan State, east of the capital Naypyidaw.
The police station was set on fire and rebel fighters also arrested four members of the security forces, local media reported.
“I thought today was a day of conquest,” Thet Wai, 29, told AFP.
“But I’m also worried because we saw air strikes and tanks today. They have much better weapons than us. “
He said the Burmese military launched helicopter airstrikes in the evening in Demoso, a town in Kayah state about 40 kilometers to the south.
Another civilian fighter in Demoso said at least 13 Burmese soldiers were killed on Sunday, while four of his men were wounded.
“We intended to seize their police station, but they used airstrikes and we could not prevent their reinforcement trucks from entering the city,” he said.
“We had to withdraw our troops from the fighting. “
Fighting continued on Sunday evening, according to a senior leader of the Karenni National Progressive Party – an ethnic armed group with a stronghold in Kayah state.
He confirmed that the army was using tanks, helicopters and mortar attacks in Demoso and Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state.
Meanwhile, military leader Min Aun Hlaing, who removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in the coup, gave a two-hour interview to Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television, with the full schedule remaining at broadcast.
In an excerpt published on Sunday, he offered assurances to Chinese investors after a wave of arson attacks at factories in the commercial capital Yangon.
“Our citizens do not hate China,” he said. “It happened for political reasons. “
Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was placed under house arrest.
She has been hit with a slew of criminal charges, including violating coronavirus restrictions during last year’s election campaign and possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies.
Suu Kyi is expected to appear in person in court on Monday for the first time, after weeks of delays in her court case.
© 2021 AFP