Army denies rebels shot down helicopter

BURMA: Kachin ethnic rebels battling the Burmese army in the country’s north said they shot down a government helicopter – but the army claimed yesterday that the chopper crashed due to engine failure.

An emailed announcement from the Kachin guerrillas said they shot down the helicopter late on Friday as heavy fighting raged.

Burma’s deputy information minister and presidential spokesman, Ye Htut, confirmed that a government helicopter had crashed, but said engine failure was to blame. He described the accident as an “emergency landing”.

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It was the first helicopter crash since the military began launching air strikes against the Kachin in the last week of December.

Both the government and the guerrillas have made misleading statements in the past about the fighting.