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Is Myanmar heading for an armed struggle as 13 Myanmar soldiers are killed?

People have come out in large numbers against the military coup. Now they are taking up arms (Photo: IANS)

The opposition to the military coup in Myanmar has taken a new turn as pro-democracy forces have killed more than 13 members of the security forces in the country's eastern parts. The violence has raised an important question. Are the pro-democracy protests in Myanmar mutating into a full-fledged armed struggle?

The Pro-Democracy Forces (PDF) have apparently formed the People's Defence Force (PDF), in a bid to take on violent assaults by Myanmar. The anti-coup protesters have also sought the help of ethnic armed insurgent groups that proliferate Myanmar's border states, says The Irrawady

The latest fighting by the PDF with security forces took place in the Muse town – one of the crossings to China. The PDF is an alliance of four ethnic armed groups which are against the coup.

The PDF militia has launched attacks on both the police as well as the Myanmar army as both of them are supporting the military junta. It had been formed earlier this month by the anti-coup National Unity Government (NUG) in a bid to protect its supporters from military attacks and violence instigated by the military government. Many Myanmarese youth opposing the military coup reached out to the insurgents for armed training.

A spokesperson for armed group Chinland Defense Force (CDF) told Myanmarese news service, Myanmar Now: "We were defending against reinforcements coming to Hakha. It started at around 8 am. At least six from the military were killed. Their truck was thrown off a cliff".

The news agency reported that 12 police officers in the town of Kanpetlet have defected to the pro-democracy group.

On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the popular government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and imposed a state of emergency for one year. It also put Suu Kyi's cabinet members and other leaders under house arrest. Suu Kyi had won the elections just before the coup. The military has killed more 800 people during the protests–triggering  a possible transition towards an open armed struggle.