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Ta’ang National Liberation Army clashes with Myanmar’s military near China border

Myanmar’s troops and government aligned paramilitaries have clashed with fighters from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in the north of the country, leaving at least 15 people dead.

“Fighting took place since 5am this morning at three places: two military bases in Muse and one near a bridge on the way to Lashio town,” TNLA spokesman Major Mai Aik Kyaw told AFP.

"We fight because of heavy fighting in our region and the serious offensive in Kachin State," he said. Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee the northern state of Kachin as the army stepped up air strikes and artillery fire against separatist fighters of the TNLA-aligned Kachin Independence Army (KIA) last month amid widespread reports of rights violations by government forces.

TNLA forces reportedly attacked a casino run by a militia and a Myanmar army post.

The group claimed to have killed 25 paramilitary members, but acknowledged the death of at least six civilians. "We feel sorry for civilian deaths. We are sorry. But it's hard to say how they were killed during the fighting," said the TNLAA spokesman.

Myanmar’s government claimed the attack involved around 100 insurgents attacked at using small arms and artillery.

“This is not the ethnic rights movement,” said government spokesperson, Zaw Htay. “This is a terrorist attack.”

See more from Reuters here and AFP here.