Fighters of a local militia opposed to Myanmar's junta have pulled back from the northwestern town of Mindat after days of assault by combat troops backed by artillery, a member of the group said yesterday. The United States and Britain called on the army to avoid civilian casualties and a shadow National Unity Government formed by loyalists of Myanmar's detained elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appealed for international help. The fighting in the hill town of Mindat, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Indian border in Chin state, is some of the heaviest since the coup plunged Myanmar into chaos with daily protests, strikes and the emergence of new local militias. The US-funded RFA website quoted a member of the group as saying five of its fighters were killed, but it believed it had inflicted losses several times that many on the army, widely known as the Tatmadaw. The fighting marks the emergence of the Chinland Defence Force, one of several new groups to spring up in opposition to the junta in a country which already had about two dozen ethnic armed groups. The fighters also say they are part of the People's Defence Forces of the shadow government.