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Myanmar's Kachin rebels say fighting continues

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 19, 2013 at 3:24 am •  Published: January 19, 2013

A cease-fire that held for nearly two decades broke down in June 2011 after the Kachin refused to abandon a strategic base near a hydropower plant that is a joint venture with a Chinese company. The conflict has forced about 100,000 Kachin from their homes since then, and many are in camps near Laiza, where they have been digging bomb shelters and bunkers out of fear of air and artillery attacks.

The recent fighting flared up after the Kachin rejected a government demand that they stop attacking convoys delivering supplies to the army base at Lajayang. The guerrillas contended that the convoys carried ammunition that could be used to attack their own nearby headquarters. The government then launched its offensive to clear the road to its base.

On Saturday, the Kachin rebel official said the latest fighting was taking place at Hka Pot and Hka Ya Bhum, both rebel-held hilltop posts located to the north and west of Laiza, respectively. He said fighting was also taking place in Hphakant, more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) further away.

He said the army had launched new offensives in each of the locations, but it was impossible to verify the claims.

Ye Htut, a spokesman for President Thein Sein, accused rebels of attacking a police station in Hphakant before dawn on Saturday, killing two police.

He did not comment directly on the reports of new fighting, but said the army has "reiterated its commitment to the president's instruction to stop offensives except for self-defense."

Min Htay, a member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, a dissident group that is fighting alongside some KIA units, also said the army was shelling a rebel outpost at Kka Ya Bhum with artillery on Saturday. Myanmar is also called Burma.

"The government announced last night that they will stop offensives," Min Htay said, "But in practice, troops continue their barrage."

Min Htay said hundreds of government ground forces overran three rebel hill posts around Lajayang in fierce battles on Friday, forcing outnumbered guerrillas to retreat.