Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup on February 1, with protests almost daily against military rule across the country and ethnic militias stepping up attacks, overrunning military posts.
Myanmar's junta has declared martial law in a town in Chin State after blaming "armed terrorists" for attacks on a police station and a bank, state media reported, amid an upsurge in fighting between the military and ethnic rebels in border areas.
In the face of widespread opposition, the junta has struggled to retain order amid daily protests in cities and fighting in border states since overthrowing elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end tentative steps towards democracy.
The unrest in the town of Mindat on Wednesday and Thursday involved about 100 people using homemade guns to attack a police station and about 50 targeting the Myanmar Economic Bank, the state Myanmar News Agency reported.
It said that the security forces had repelled the attack without suffering any casualties.
A document declaring the imposition of martial law in the town in Chin State, which borders India, was posted in The Global New Light of Myanmar, a state newspaper.
Reuters could not independently confirm the state media reports on the situation in Mindat.
But a document posted on social media by local media claiming to be from a rival anti-junta administration in the Mindat area said the declaration of martial law was invalid.
It also said that the fighting was triggered by the army breaking a promise to release seven civilians detained during recent protests.
A spokesman for the Chinland Defence Force, a newly formed militia, said it was behind the latest fighting and confirmed the authenticity of the document.
"They (the junta) can no longer rule the city except in some areas where they have bases. They have no control in the rural areas," said the spokesman, who said that one fighter from the force was killed and that clashes were continuing with the army bringing in reinforcements.
A spokesman for the junta could not immediately be reached for comment.
#May14Coup Mindat— Shafiur Rahman (@shafiur) May 14, 2021
1.SAC statement imposing martial law for “Security, rule of law ®ional peace”
2.MINDAT-CDF statement: People's Administration already formed to govern Township & they CANNOT accept martial law declared by SAC. #WhatsHappeninglnMyanmar pic.twitter.com/MOzSz3veKv
In a further sign of continuing defiance of military rule, video on social media showed pro-democracy supporters chanting "We believe that we gonna win, we must win, we must win" as they marched in Myanmar's commercial hub of Yangon on Friday.
With 788 people killed in a brutal suppression of protests by security forces, according to an advocacy group, some supporters of the ousted government have sought military training with insurgents that have battled the military for decades in border regions.
Reuters is unable to independently verify casualties and the military has imposed restrictions on the media, internet services and satellite broadcasts.
Fighting has intensified in some border areas since the February 1 coup, with ethnic militias stepping up attacks, overrunning military posts and downing a military helicopter.
Formed a week ago by the National Unity Government opposed to the generals, a group called the People's Defence Forces has enlisted support from ethnic armed groups that have long regarded Mynamar's military as their greatest foe.
Called to arms since the coup, their fighters have ambushed security forces and assassinated junta-appointed administrators.
I'm glad that the Myanmar junta will release this Japanese journalist as a gesture to Japan. He should never have been detained. But the same goes for the other ~40 journalists still in detention. They ALL should be freed to do their jobs. https://t.co/6FAF5zbu6c pic.twitter.com/XLjF4V0gDh— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 14, 2021
Japanese journalist to be released from prison
A Japanese freelance journalist in Myanmar who was jailed on charges of spreading false news or information will be freed by the country’s ruling junta as a gesture of friendship with Japan, Myanmar state media said Thursday.
The announcement on the army-run Myawaddy TV said Yuki Kitazumi had been arrested on April 18 for “inciting” the country’s anti-military civil disobedience movement and riots.
“Although the journalist is a lawbreaker, the case will be closed and he will be released at the request of the Special Envoy of the Japanese Government for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, in view of the close ties and future relations between Myanmar and Japan," said a news reader, quoting an official statement from the junta, formally called the State Administrative Council.