ANKARA, May 3 — Amid ongoing resistance against the military junta, a powerful rebel group in Myanmar claimed to have shot down a military helicopter on Monday.
A spokesperson for the Kachin Independent Army, one of the most powerful rebel groups in the northernmost state of Kachin bordering China, told Anadolu Agency that the incident occurred during an airstrike by the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw.
“The Tatmadaw launched airstrikes a few days ago, but today’s action includes three jet fighters and a helicopter. We shot down the helicopter at around 10 am (0330GMT) today,” said Col Naw Bu, an information officer for the rebel group.
He declined to say what type of arms was used to shoot down the military helicopter.
He claimed that Monday’s airstrike targetted the Alaw Bun hill in the Moemauk township near the Myanmar-China border in Kachin that was considered by both sides strategically important for gaining the military upper hand over the surrounding areas.
A medical student, who is a resident of Yangon but now in Kachin state waiting to join the combat training, witnessed the shooting down of the helicopter.
“The helicopter was hit by an FN-6 portable missile fired by the Kachin fighters. It was on fire in the sky and crashed near a village,” she told Anadolu Agency over the phone on Monday, on condition of anonymity.
The military has not made any announcement yet over the incident.
The Southeast Asian nation has been going through an upheaval since Feb 1 when armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing ousted an elected government led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988.
The junta also detained Suu Kyi, Myint, and 3,555 other people following the coup, bringing an end to a decade of fragile civilian rule.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a second term in the general elections November last year, but the military said rigging of the polls had forced it to seize power.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in the country, pro-democracy protests have taken place in cities and towns across the country since then and the junta has killed a total of 765 protesters so far.
The UN and rights groups have expressed concern over the use of disproportionate force by the military junta on unarmed protesters.