Passenger wounded as Myanmar rebels shoot airliner: junta

A passenger on board a Myanmar domestic flight was shot in the face Friday when rebels opened fire on the plane as it landed, the country’s military junta said.

A bullet passed through the fuselage of the Myanmar National Airlines plane as it made its descent carrying 63 people into Loikaw, the capital of eastern Kayah state.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a military coup ousted the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year, with thousands killed in a crackdown on dissent.

Anti-coup rebels have sprung up across the country to battle the junta, in some areas allying with local ethnic militias that have been in conflict with the authorities for decades.

The plane, flying from the capital Naypyidaw, came under fire at a height of around 1,000 metres (3,280 feet), about six kilometres (3.7 miles) north of Loikaw airport on Friday morning, the junta said in a statement.

The statement blamed fighters from an anti-junta militia and the Karenni National Progressive Party, an ethnic rebel army, for the shooting.

“A passenger on board was injured on the right cheek because of a gunshot,” the statement said. 

“The injured passenger is now being given treatment at Loikaw People’s Hospital and security forces are performing security process in the area where the attack happened.”

More than 2,300 people have been killed and 15,000 arrested in the military’s crackdown on dissent since the coup, according to a local monitoring group.

The latest civilian death toll issued by the junta stands at almost 3,900.