Thousands flee to China after MNDAA attack on army

Mar 10, 2017, 00:39
Thousands flee to China after MNDAA attack on army

About 30 people died Monday in clashes between ethnic rebels and Myanmar security in an area along the border with China, the government said.

Some 36 families displaced from fighting in Laukkai arrive in a Buddhist monastery in Lashio Township, Shan State.

Rebels from the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) launched an attack early Monday against police and military posts, according to Suu Kyi's office.

China is providing assistance on humanitarian grounds, Mr Geng said, adding that he had no information about any Chinese casualties. A separate group of fighters later attacked other sites in Laukkai.

During the 2015 conflicts, almost 50 soldiers died, while tens of thousands fled across the border to China's southern province of Yunnan.

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The renewed clashes are said to have caused a huge blow to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's chief goal of reaching a peace deal with ethnic minorities in the country.

He urged both sides to adopt peaceful means in resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation.

"Most people have left Laukkai town", a military officer requesting anonymity told AFP on Wednesday, adding fighting was continuing in surrounding areas.

In an official statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang said, "Parties concerned should stop fighting immediately so as to prevent the situation from getting worse, and restore normal order in the border areas as soon as possible".

The latest clashes are in northeastern Shan state, which has seen repeated bouts of heavy fighting between the army and a band of well-armed ethnic minority militias since November, undercutting a government peace bid.

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

An army source requesting anonymity said "about 7,000 local residents are fleeing to the China side because of fighting".

"In the Laukai attack, the Tatmadaw [military] could seize 20 burnt bodies of the insurgent group, 13 kinds of weapons including two RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and related ammunition", said a statement published by the army-run Myawady newspaper.

Many groups in the border region share close cultural ties with China, speaking Chinese dialects and using the country's yuan currency.

The worsening conflict in the borderlands has raised tensions between Myanmar and Beijing.

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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.

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