Fighters of a local militia opposed to Myanmar’s junta have pulled back from the northwestern town of Mindat after days of assault by combat troops backed by artillery, a member of the group said on Sunday.
The United States and Britain called on the army to avoid civilian casualties and a shadow National Unity Government formed by loyalists of Myanmar’s detained elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appealed for international help.
A spokesman for the junta did not answer calls for comment.
The fighting in the hill town of Mindat, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Indian border in Chin state, is some of the heaviest since the coup plunged Myanmar into chaos with daily protests, strikes and the emergence of new local militias.
“To avoid confrontation, we retreated out of concern over damage to the town,” said one fighter, adding that only women and children remained in the town of more than 40,000 that was now largely occupied by the army.
“Since all the boys and men are involved in this fight, all of them are on the run.”
The U.S.-funded RFA (Radio Free Asia) website quoted a member of the group as saying five of its fighters were killed, but it believed it had inflicted losses several times that many on the army, widely known as the Tatmadaw.