Myanmar clashes leave 20 dead

·2-min read

Myanmar's security forces clashed with villagers armed with catapults and crossbows during a search for weapons in the Ayeyarwady river delta region and local media reported as many as 20 people had been killed.

State television news said three "terrorists" had been killed and two arrested at the village of Hlayswe as security forces went to apprehend a man accused of plotting against the state.

A junta spokesman did not answer calls from Reuters to request comment on the violence at the village in the Kyonpyaw township of Ayeyarwady Region. Reuters was unable to confirm the toll independently.

The army has struggled to impose control since it overthrew elected leader Aug San Suu Kyi after a decade of democratic reforms had opened up the once isolated state.

A meeting between junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and envoys from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday drew anger in parts of Myanmar on Saturday, with an ASEAN flag being set ablaze in the second city of Mandalay.

Clashes broke out before dawn on Saturday at Hlayswe, some 150 km northwest of the main city of Yangon, when soldiers said they had come to search for weapons, at least four local media outlets and a resident said.

"The people in the village only have crossbows and there are a lot of casualties on the people's side," said the resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.

Khit Thit Media and the Delta News Agency said 20 civilians had been killed and more wounded.

If confirmed, the toll given by the local media would be the highest in one day in nearly two months. Some 845 people had previously been killed by the army and police since the February 1 coup, according to an activist group. The junta disputes that figure.

It was some of the worst violence since the coup in the Ayeyarwady region, an important rice growing area that has large populations of both the Bamar majority ethnic group, from which much of the army is drawn, and the Karen minority.

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