Myanmar‘s junta said on Wednesday that fighting with an alliance of ethnic minority groups was intensifying near the northern border with China, where military forces were under heavy attack by opponents using drones to drop bombs.
Clashes have raged across Myanmar’s northern Shan state for more than two weeks after an armed alliance of three ethnic minority groups launched an offensive against the military.
The Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) have seized towns and vital trade routes to China in the fighting.
Alliance fighters were using “hundreds” of drones to drop bombs on junta positions at Tamoenye in Shan state, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said.
They were also attacking a military position near the town of Laukkai, around 70 kilometres (43 miles) to the east, which the MNDAA has said it has surrounded and aims to capture.
The military have been “resisting their best”, the junta spokesman said, without specifying if it had suffered casualties.
Hundreds of people have sought shelter in Shan’s Lashio town as the fighting rages, an AFP correspondent said.
On Wednesday, dozens queued for food at a Buddhist monastery in the town.
The alliance offensive launched in late October is the biggest military challenge to the junta since it seized power in a 2021 coup, analysts say.
This week the AA also launched attacks on security forces in Rakhine and Chin states near the border with India and said it seized police posts.
Until this week a ceasefire between the junta and the AA in Rakhine had held, despite the ongoing clashes in the north.
Anti-coup fighters this week have also attacked security forces around Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state in the east.
Loikaw prison and the state’s police office in the town were “being targeted and attacked”, according to Zaw Min Tun.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced by the fighting and at least 75 civilians, including children, have been killed, the United Nations said on Wednesday.