Clashes have flared between Myanmar’s army and rebels in an ethnic Chinese northern border state, government media has said, as multiple conflicts in minority regions overshadow efforts to agree on a nationwide ceasefire.
Fighting on Monday in the predominantly ethnic Chinese area of Kokang in the state of Shan had stoked “worries” among local people that there would be “recurring fighting there,” the English language Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Tuesday.
“While the State is making all-out efforts for reaching a nationwide ceasefire, the renegade groups of Kokang have ambushed the troops of the Tatmadaw (army),” it said.
|China urged to help Myanmar refugees|
There were no immediate reports on casualties.
The resurgence of violence in Kokang, which had been largely dormant for nearly six years, saw rebel troops attack Myanmar military positions in the area on Monday.
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua also reported on Monday that hundreds of Kokang rebels had launched assaults on four areas that afternoon.
Beijing expressed concern on Tuesday about renewed fighting, and confirmed that Myanmar border residents have fled into China.
The rebels were formerly part of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), a China-backed force that battled the Myanmar government until the group fell apart in 1989.
Peace deal delayed
The fighting comes as conflict between the military and armed ethnic minority groups rages in other parts of Shan and northern Kachin states, casting doubts over government efforts to sign a nationwide ceasefire deal.
Myanmar had hoped to sign the long-delayed agreement on Thursday, as the country celebrates its annual Union Day.
But officials said a full deal was not yet on the table.
“We will not be able to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord because there are some negotiation points still left to discuss,” Hla Maung Shwe, a negotiator with the Myanmar Peace Centre, told the AFP news agency.
Myanmar’s government, which replaced military rule in 2011, has vowed to end the civil wars that have been flaring on and off since independence, as a key part of its reforms.
Fighting between the government and Kachin Independence Army has festered since a 17-year ceasefire between rebels and the government collapsed in 2011, driving almost 100,000 civilians from their homes.
The UN local representative on Thursday raised concerns about violence last month around Kachin’s Hpakant township, a jade-rich area near the border with China, which trapped hundreds of civilians.
Last week, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) accused Myanmar’s army of using two helicopter gunships against its positions in another part of Shan state.