30 dead in fighting in Myanmar town near China border

YANGON: At least 30 people were killed on Monday (Mar 6)  in a day of intense fighting in a town on Myanmar’s border with China, authorities said, after rebels dressed in police uniforms launched a surprise raid.

Artillery and small arms fire continued throughout the day in Laukkai, a main town in the Kokang region of the northeastern state of Shan.

The clashes are some of the worst to break out in the Chinese-speaking Kokang region since fighting in 2015 left scores dead and forced tens of thousands to flee across the border into China.

Myanmar is already torn by various ethnic insurgencies. But the Kokang conflict has raised tensions with its giant neighbour.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is desperate to end the decades-long borderland conflicts, but intensifying fighting threatens peace efforts.

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.

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

“According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher … were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group,” the State Counsellor’s Office said in a statement, adding some attackers wore local police uniforms.

The statement, accompanied by grisly pictures of the dead and wounded, said at least five civilians and five local police were killed in the fighting. It added that a further 20 “burned bodies” had been found alongside weapons.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP those casualties were MNDAA fighters.

Unverified video shared on social media appeared to show parts of the town still ablaze on Monday afternoon while civilians scurried to safety amid the rattle of small arms fire.

An army source told AFP fighting was continuing as darkness fell. “Residents in town are fleeing. We do not know exact figures yet,” the officer said.

The Northern Alliance, an umbrella group of rebels including the MNDAA which has yet to join national peace talks, confirmed its members were fighting in Laukkai.

But in a Facebook post it said they carried out the attack “to resist an enemy offensive in self-defence” and cited Myanmar military operations since December.

The latest fighting raises the spectre of a fresh refugee exodus into China.

In early 2015 tens of thousands fled there when dozens of civilians, rebels and army troops died in months of fighting across the remote and mountainous region.

China said Myanmar warplanes dropped bombs on its side of the border during that bout of fighting.

Kokang has strong bonds with China – local people speak a Chinese dialect and China’s yuan is the common currency. Observers say Beijing holds considerable sway over the rebels.

Skirmishes with the Northern Alliance have intensified across Shan state since late last year, claiming more than 160 lives across an arc of land in the long border region.

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This entry was posted in China, China - North Korea relationship and tagged , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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