More than 20000 Myanmar refugees flee to China

10 March, 2017, 00:41 | Author: Archie Newman
  • More than 20000 Myanmar refugees flee to China

At least 20,000 people from Myanmar have fled across the border to China after violence erupted between ethnic rebels and the security forces.

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

The office of military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing charged that the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army — which represents the ethnic Chinese Kokang minority — had attacked Laukkai in northern Shan state to try to create a liberated zone under rebel control.

China has called for an immediate ceasefire, urging restraint to "prevent further escalation and take practical and effective measures to restore peace and stability to the border areas", Geng told reporters.

In 2015, tens of thousands fled across the border into China after clashes between rebels and the government.

Witnesses at a town in restive Kokang region described how the clashes created chaos and created panic among the residents.

China is providing humanitarian assistance while taking steps to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border region, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

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

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But fighting has surged since previous year as the army clashes with several different ethnic armed groups, undermining a government bid to forge peace.

"With this attack, we taught a lesson to the Tatmadaw who have destroyed peace in the Union for over half a century", said the statement.

On Tuesday, six people inside casinos in Laukkai died in the fighting, and government soldiers apprehended about 80 casino workers, locals said.

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.

MNDAA is part of the Northern Alliance, a coalition of rebel groups comprising one of Myanmar's most powerful militias, the Kachin Independence Army, and two smaller groups that have been in a stand-off with Myanmar's military since clashes in Kokang two years ago.

About 30 people were killed on Monday in the attack staged by ethnic Chinese insurgents in the town of Laukkai, 800 km (500 miles) northeast of commercial hub Yangon, prompting thousands to seek refuge across the border in camps in China.

An army source requesting anonymity said "about 7,000 local residents are fleeing to the China side because of fighting". But Beijing also bared its teeth after Myanmar's bombs landed in Chinese territory and killed five people.

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