30 die in Myanmar-China border town

Mar 10, 2017, 00:39
30 die in Myanmar-China border town

Fighting between ethnic armies and state soldiers in the same area in early 2015 drove tens of thousands of residents to flee, many of whom crossed the border into China, which accused Myanmar of dropping bombs on its territory.

Another estimated 20,000 people remain internally displaced in Rakhine state in the west because of inter-communal and military conflicts with Rohingya Muslims that the United Nations has said constitutes the "likely commission of crimes against humanity".

Rebels dressed as police officers attacked a number of military and police outposts in Myanmar's restive Kokang region on Monday, killing as many as 30.

Spokesman Geng Shuang made the comments at a regular press briefing in Beijing that people fleeing Myanmar are seeking temporary shelter in China.

A separate group of fighters later attacked locations in the main town.

The MNDAA attack on Laukkai-the first in the town since a large offensive in February 2015-killed at least five policemen and five local residents and sent thousands fleeing across the border to China.

China on Tuesday called for an immediate cease-fire between the two sides and urged the use of peaceful means to resolve differences.

Scores of people died in 2015 when MNDAA troops entered the Kokang self-administered region.

"According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher ... were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group", the state counselor's office said in statement posted on Facebook, according to Agence France-Presse.

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"The attack on the town of Laukkai was unavoidable", said the MNDAA statement.

Fighting has been taking place in the same region as clashes in 2015 between authorities and an alliance of several armed groups, causing the deaths of almost 160 people and forcing thousands to flee to China.

The attack came after the Nobel Peace Prize victor met a delegation of ethnic armed groups last week to convince them to participate in a major peace conference.

The owner of another hotel, calling himself by his surname Yang, said: "All we can do is to help them and give them food".

Myanmar nationals from other parts of the country and Chinese who work in the city close to the border with China have been trying to return home to safety, they said.

The military said it recovered 20 charred bodies it says belonged to fallen insurgents.

Observers believe Beijing holds some sway over the ethnic fighters and has a key role to play in peace talks that Myanmar's de facto leader Ms Suu Kyi has tried to revive since coming to power a year ago.

An army source told AFP fighting was continuing as darkness fell.

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