Chinland Defence Force, an anti-junta armed group made up of civilians, says six of its fighters were killed in Mindat town of western Chin state during an attack on the military.
Six opposition rebels have been killed after days of clashes in Myanmar, an anti-junta defence force made up of civilians have said, as Britain and the United States condemned the military's violence against civilians.
The country has been in uproar since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 1 coup, triggering a massive uprising which authorities have sought to quell with lethal force.
Some in the anti-junta movement have set up local militias armed with homemade weapons to protect their towns from security forces – which have killed at least 790 civilians according to a local monitoring group.
In the western state of Chin, the town of Mindat has emerged as a hotspot for unrest, where some residents have formed the Chinland Defence Force (CDF).
"Six members of our CDF who tried to protect the security of the people in Mindat attacked (junta forces) and sacrificed their lives for the national revolution," said a CDF statement on Sunday.
A spokesman also told AFP news agency that over 10 have been wounded this week, while five Mindat residents were arrested by the military.
READ MORE: Myanmar junta imposes martial law in town
The US and British embassies in Myanmar express concern about reports of "fierce government attacks on [Mindat] town in a western Chin state where martial law was declared Thursday because of armed resistance by [lightly armed] opponents of military rule." https://t.co/7vAnC6oysB pic.twitter.com/hdqUcKyydl— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 16, 2021
Martial law and fear of retaliation
With mobile data blocked across the country, details about the fighting have been slow to come out, and on-the-ground verification is made harder as locals are fearful of retaliation.
The spokesman, who declined to be named, said CDF fighters set fire to several army trucks, destroying them, and ambushed reinforcement troops, while the military has attacked the town with artillery.
By Sunday, the CDF had retreated into the jungle, he said.
"We will not stay anymore in the town... but we will come back to attack soon," he said. "We only have homemade guns. This was not enough."
He added that residents remaining in Mindat – which has been under martial law since Thursday – were afraid to leave their homes for fear of being targeted by the military.
'Illegal' attacks on civilians
The US and UK embassies in Myanmar sounded the alarm on Saturday on Mindat's unrest, calling for security forces to cease violence.
"The military's use of weapons of war against civilians, including this week in Mindat, is a further demonstration of the depths the regime will sink to hold onto power," the US embassy said in a tweet Saturday.
"Attacks on civilians are illegal and cannot be justified," said the British embassy, referring to reports of violence from Mindat.
"Evidence of atrocities should be sent to the (United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar) so perpetrators can be held to account," the embassy tweeted, referring to a committee that collects evidence of international crimes.
State-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported on Sunday that a military tribunal would be convened to try "perpetrators of terrorist attacks" in Mindat.
Security forces saw multiple attacks which left one man dead, said the newspaper, and an ambush on Friday by "1,000 rioters" killed some soldiers – though it did not say how many.
Across the country, anti-coup protesters continue to march for democracy with demonstrators in northern Hpakant holding signs that said "Stay strong, Mindat".