19 killed in fight between Myanmar army and rebels

Kachin Independence army rebel stands at frontline outpost facing no man's land in Lawa Yang outside of Laiza the armed group's headquarters in northern Kachin state Myanmar

At least 19 people were killed in clashes between Myanmar's military and an ethnic insurgent group in the remote northern Shan state close to the Chinese border, AFP reported quoting unidentified military officials.

The Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched three attacks on early Saturday in the town of Muse in Shan state, also injuring 20 others, Zaw Htay, the spokesperson said.

Clashes in Northern Myanmar near the border with China have increased since January, as the worldwide community pays more attention to the Rohingya refugee crisis in the West.

Pictures of burned out vehicles and armed men running for cover spread quickly on social media.

The country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, made ending Myanmar's multiple civil wars a priority when her National League for Democracy won landslide elections in 2015, ending five decades of military rule.

"Nineteen [people] were killed in fighting", the military source said, adding that two-dozen had been injured.

Among the dead were 15 civilians, three soldiers and a police officer, he said. "The attack to target innocent people is not asking for ethnic rights", he said.

The UN and human rights groups say the volatile situation in Myanmar is putting people's lives at risk.

Thousands of people have been displaced in the country's northern-most state of Kachin since April amid renewed fighting between the army and ethnic insurgents.

Mai Aik Kyaw, TNLA's spokesman, told AFP news agency that they attacked military posts, a casino just outside the town of Muse on a road to Lashio.

Myanmar's patchwork of ethnic groups make up around a third of the population.

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