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Myanmar protesters defy crackdown as U.N. envoy warns of ‘imminent bloodbath’

Myanmar activists burned copies of a military-framed constitution on Thursday two months after the junta seized power, as a U.N. special envoy warned of the risk of a bloodbath because of an intensified crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

The United Nations envoy’s warning follows a flare-up in fighting between the army and ethnic minority insurgents in frontier regions.

At least 20 soldiers were killed and four military trucks destroyed in clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of Myanmar’s most powerful rebel groups, DVB news reported.

Reuters could not immediately verify the reports and a junta spokesman did not answers calls seeking comment.

Myanmar military aircraft have started bombing positions of another group, the Karen National Union (KNU), for the first time in more than 20 years and thousands of villagers have fled from their homes, many into Thailand.

Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on Feb. 1 citing unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election. Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) are being held in detention

In cities across Myanmar there were further candle-lit protests overnight and marches at dawn on Thursday, according to media and photographs on social media.

Fires also broke out at two shopping centres in Yangon owned by military-controlled conglomerates overnight and early on Thursday, with photographs posted on social media showing flames and columns of smoke.

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