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8 killed, six hurt in Myanmar rebel attack

world Updated: Dec 20, 2007 10:47 IST

AFP
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Eight people were killed and six injured when ethnic Karen rebels attacked a passenger bus in eastern Myanmar, official media said on Thursday.

Seven rebels from the Karen National Union (KNU) opened fire on the bus after it hit a landmine early Wednesday while heading to the town of Myawaddy on the Thai border, the official New Light of Myanmar said.

"KNU insurgents are constantly committing all (kinds of) destructive acts, such as undermining stability of the state," the newspaper said.

Myanmar rarely reports on any fighting with ethnic minority insurgencies in its border regions.

The KNU earlier this month accused Myanmar's military government of stepping up an offensive in Karen regions following a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September.

The offensive began about one year ago, but the KNU said attacks have intensified since October, accusing the junta of waging a "genocidal war" against ethnic Karen villagers.

The KNU is the largest rebel group fighting Myanmar's armed forces and one of the few remaining ethnic insurgent groups yet to sign a peace deal with the junta.

Myanmar, under military rule since 1962, has signed ceasefires with 17 other ethnic armed groups.

The latest military onslaught began after soldiers and police violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in the main city of Yangon and other towns across the country in September.

The protests, led by Buddhist monks, were the biggest threat to military rule in nearly 20 years.

According to a UN report, at least 31 people were killed and 74 were missing after the crackdown, with more than 600 dissidents still in detention.