Nan Mwe Phown, a Red Cross member who was at a hospital in Muse, said the dead included 13 male civilians and two women, one of whom was pregnant, as well as several police officers.
"Nineteen [people] were killed in fighting", the military source said, adding that two-dozen had been injured.
YANGON, Myanmar - An ethnic rebel group fighting Myanmar's government attacked the country's military in a northern town Saturday, leaving at least 15 people dead and 20 injured, including civilians, officials said.
Rights defenders say clashes in northern Myanmar near the China border have ramped up since January as the worldwide community focuses on the Rohingya crisis in the west of the country.
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The army has been accused of systematic human rights violations against the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority in the western state of Rakhine, forcing more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh since last August.
Images and video from the skirmishes shared on social media showed armed men fanning out across a residential street while a rebel soldier took cover behind a vehicle.
He called the operation "terrorism". "They ran away after attacking the civilian targets", said Zaw Htay.
He said the military would pursue the armed group. "This is a terrorist attack".
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It is unclear if members of the powerful KIA took part in the attacks yesterday.
In addition to Saturday's arrests, at least nine activists across Myanmar were detained, charged or sentenced over the past week for organizing or participating in protests calling for an end to the violence and denial of safe passage to displaced people in Kachin state. "We are sorry. But it's hard to say how they were killed during the fighting", said the TNLAA spokesman.
Myanmar's patchwork of ethnic groups make up round a third of the population, but the Bamar or Burmese have filled the Buddhist-majority country's power structures since independence in 1948.
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