FILE - A man holds a National League for Democracy (NLD) flag during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar March 27, 2021.
FILE - A man holds a National League for Democracy (NLD) flag during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar March 27, 2021.

Members of a militia opposed to the coup by the Myanmar military on Sunday pulled back into the jungle of western Myanmar following days of fighting with the army, as the United States and Britain condemned military violence against civilians.

Mindat, a city of about 40,000 people in the western Chin state of Myanmar, has become a hotspot for the civilian movement against the military government, which seized power in a coup February 1.

Some Mindat residents have formed the Chinland Defense Force (CDF), which said in a statement Sunday that six of its members had been killed by the junta. After three weeks of fighting, the army has battled local people. But fighters pulled back after days of assaults by army combat troops backed by artillery.  
 
Some security forces were killed, and others were reported missing after attacks in Mindat, Myawaddy television, which is controlled by the army, said Saturday. The BBC reported that some of the Mindat population is believed to have fled, while others are trapped in the town. 

The United Nations has estimated that the military has killed more than 780 people since the coup. The military disputes that number. Since the coup that ousted the elected government, the military has shut down internet and mobile phone services periodically throughout the country, making it difficult for human rights organizations and media to confirm death tolls.

The U.S. and British embassies in Myanmar issued statements raising concerns about civilians in Mindat.

“The military’s use of weapons of war against civilians, including this week in Mindat, is a further demonstration of the depths the regime will sink to to hold onto power,” the U.S. embassy in Myanmar wrote on Twitter Sunday.

“Attacks on civilians are illegal and cannot be justified,” the British embassy in Myanmar said Sunday.

Pope Francis, who has been outspoken in condemning violence in Myanmar, delivered a special message devoted to the country from Italy Sunday. 

“Do not lose hope,” he said. “Even today, Jesus is interceding before the Father for all of us, praying that he keep us from the evil one and set us free from evil’s power.”