KOLKATA : Heavy fighting continued in Mindat town in Myanmar's Chin state on Saturday, as civilian fighters fought the Myanmar military or Tatmadaw, braving heavy artillery barrages.
Two more resistance fighters died on Friday, bringing the death toll to three, said a spokesman of the resistance who called himself "John".
"John" told IANS the Mindat Defense Force were not taking cognisance of a declaration of martial law by the Myanmar military junta.
"We just don't care for such declarations. We will fight on and not allow the Tatmadaw enter our town," said John.
The armed resistance at Mindat marks a dramatic transformation of the pro-democracy movement from a peaceful protest agitation to an armed one, that could dramatically escalate Myanmar's civil war so far restricted to ethnic border regions like Kachin, Karen and Rakhine provinces.
While hundreds of Burmese protesters have fled and joined armed resistance groups like the Federal Army and United Defence Force and are now receiving training at Karen and Kachin rebel bases, the defence by Chin boys and girls armed with just hunting rifles and gunpowder used locally is turning into an epic symbol of the resistance.
The junta describes the Chin resistance fighters as 'armed terrorists'.
John said the Mindat Defense Force is just 300-400 boys and girls with a sprinkling of local police and former Chin insurgents, armed with barely 100 hunting rifles, but adept at using the hill terrain to tie down a demoralised Burmese army. He said the Tatmadaw is pounding the Mindat town with artillery from a base in Magwe 33 km away.
"They have also brought in snipers who killed two of our fighters," John told IANS.
"We are not able to retrieve the two dead bodies or rescue the wounded since the junta troops are opening fire on anyone who appears on the streets."
"The junta troops are trying to enter into the town via both the west and east entrances while we are protecting our town. Fighting at the east side of the town is intensifying. Shootouts also occurred downtown," he added. The civilian resistance fighters also reportedly seized about six military vehicles from Kyaukhtu that were approaching Mindat during the shootouts. A viral video on social media shows weapons and provisions on about six vehicles abandoned by the fleeing junta troops being taken by Chin civilian resistance fighters.
Local residents also said that at least five junta troops were reportedly killed during the shootouts on the east side of the town on Friday.
Fighting between junta troops and the Mindat Defense Force resumed on Wednesday night after a ceasefire in late April broke down.
The military regime declared martial law for Mindat on Thursday night after bombarding the town with artillery in response to the residents' week-long resistance. (IANS)
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