The recent fighting in Kachin state escalated on Christmas Day, when the rebels rejected a government demand that supply convoys be allowed to reach an army base, contending that they carried ammunition that could be used to attack their nearby headquarters. The government then used fighter planes and helicopters to mount attacks and seized one of the guerrillas' hilltop outposts.
The skirmishes have raised fears among rebels and their supporters that the army is readying to launch an offensive on Laiza, but as recently as New Year's Eve, a presidential adviser said the military had given assurances it would not do so. The army says it has launched recent air attacks to clear a road of rebels so it could supply a base.
On Friday, the government said in a statement that the army had been given orders to cease all offensives against the guerrillas, but that it had to protect its soldiers after the Kachin continued to set off land mines and ambush their forces.