Myanmar’s military used artillery and helicopters on Monday against anti-junta militias in the country’s east, witnesses and rebels said, forcing residents to flee and join thousands of others displaced by recent fighting in the region.
Residents of Kayah state bordering Thailand said the military was firing artillery from positions inside the state capital Loikaw into Demoso, about 14.5 km (9 miles) away, where a People’s Defence Force said it had attacked troops and was coming under heavy fire.
Myanmar’s military is fighting on multiple fronts and struggling to impose order since its Feb. 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government, sparking nationwide protests and paralysing strikes.
Decades-old conflicts between the military and ethnic minority armies have also reignited, while militias allied with a shadow government have stepped up attacks on the army, which has responded with heavy weapons and air strikes, forcing thousands to flee.
“Their cannons are visible to us, too. I can see their artillery fire in the sky. Almost 50 times. The sound of artillery is deafening us,” a resident of Loikaw told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to safety concerns.