YANGON, Myanmar

An ethnic rebel group in Myanmar on Saturday claimed killing 10 government soldiers amid escalating tensions near the country’s eastern border with Thailand.

The Karen National Union (KNU), a major rebel group in the eastern Kayin state that has been fighting for decades for greater autonomy, said it raided a military base in the Hpapun district.

The attack was carried out when the military was celebrating the Armed Forces Day in the administrative capital Nay Pyi Taw, according to KNU spokesperson Padoh Man Man.

He said the group killed at least 10 government soldiers and has taken eight more hostages.

The KNU is one of 10 rebel groups that have been engaged in talks with the military for years since the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015.

The groups, however, suspended the political dialogue with the military junta last month in the wake of a brutal crackdown on protests against the Feb. 1 coup.

They also rejected the military’s invitation to Saturday’s Armed Forces Day event in Nay Pyi Taw.

KNU leaders have also refused to meet Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military chief who led the coup and acts as the head of the State Administrative Council currently ruling the country.

Phdoh Saw Mutu Say Poe, head of the KNU, said in an open letter on Friday that the group will meet Hlaing only when the military stops killing peaceful pro-democracy protesters and releases detainees including ousted State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

He also urged the military to accept international efforts for mediation and transfer power to a national unity government.

The Myanmar army did not respond to the Anadolu Agency’s requests for confirmation of Saturday’s attack claimed by the KNU.

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