Dozens killed as intense fighting erupts in Myanmar-China border town

March 6, 2017 10:30 pm

A government soldier secures the ground while military helicopter carrying troops takes off from the town of Muse located in Shan State of near China’s border on November 25, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

At least 30 people have been killed in fresh intense fighting between Myanmar’s military forces and ethnic armed groups near the border with China.
Myanmar authorities said that rebels dressed in police uniforms launched a surprise raid in Laukkai, a major town in the Kokang region of Myanmar’s northeastern state of Shan, on Monday.
Media reports indicated that artillery and small arms fire continued throughout the day across the violence-wracked region.
Meanwhile, a statement by the office of Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed that rebels from the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) launched an attack early Monday against police and military posts.
“According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher… were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group,” the statement read.
It noted that at least five civilians and five local police forces were killed in the fighting. The statement added that a further 20 “burned bodies” had been found with weapons alongside them.

In this handout from the Myanmar Armed Forces taken on December 7, 2016 and released on December 8, 2016, Myanmar Armed Forces Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (C) meets a wounded soldier recovering at a military hospital in Lashio, located in Shan State. (Photo by AFP)

Zaw Htay, a government spokesman said those casualties were MNDAA fighters.
A number of video clips shared on social media appeared to show parts of Laukkai still ablaze on Monday afternoon .
An unnamed army officer said that fighting was continuing across the town as darkness fell.
“Residents in town are fleeing. We do not know exact figures yet,” the officer said.
In a Facebook post, the Northern Alliance, an umbrella group of rebels including the MNDAA, has said that they carried out the attack “to resist an enemy offensive in self-defense” in Laukkai. The group cited Myanmar military operations since December.

In this file photo taken on October 14, 2016, armed rebels belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) ethnic group move toward the frontline near Laiza in Kachin state. (Photo by AFP)

Fighting in Shan and the northern state of Kachin along the Myanmar-China border is intensifying day by day.
At least 160 people have died and thousands of others displaced in about three months of clashes across the troubled region.
The clashes have also threatened the second round of peace talks slated for later this month.
Last August, delegates from some rebel groups stormed out of the first round of the peace talks with Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi over a spat about their accreditation.
The government’s efforts to expand a ceasefire signed with some ethnic rebel groups in 2015 have faltered.
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