Death toll rises as Myanmar clashes intensify
Iran Press TV
Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:35PM
The death toll has risen to dozens in northern Myanmar while tens of thousands of people have fled the region as clashes between the army and the ethnic Kokang rebels intensified over the past week.
The Global News Light of Myanmar reported on Monday that eight captured rebels had "died of their wounds" in detention, raising the number of rebel casualties in recent fighting to 26.
Myanmar's army announced last week that 47 of its troops had lost their lives during the first few days of the clashes as hundreds of rebels assaulted army positions in the region. Dozens more sustained injuries.
The fighting in the Kokang area of Shan State, a predominantly ethnic Chinese northern border area, erupted on February 9 ending a six-year relative calm in the region.
State media reported on Monday that nearly 2,000 people have fled the area into central Myanmar.
Myanmarese crossing the border into China
Chinese Xinhua news agency said there had been more than 30,000 crossings from Shan into China's Yunna Province.
"Residents from Myanmar have crossed into China more than 30,000 times since February 9," Xinhua quoted a statement by the press office of Yunnan's Lincang City as saying. According to the report, the Chinese government has provided the fleeing people with "food, medicine and quarantine services."
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, urged both sides to "exercise restraint," saying more fighting "will have an impact on the stability of the China-Myanmar border areas and the security on the Chinese side of the border".
Myanmar's authorities have blamed local Kokang rebel leader, Phone Kya Shin, for the fighting, and asked Beijing to stop any local officials who might be helping the rebels on the Chinese side.
Hua vowed China "will not allow any organization or individual to carry out activities undermining China-Myanmar relations... (from) within Chinese territory."
In 2009, during Myanmar's junta rule, more than 30,000 people crossed the border into Chinese territory as Myanmar's army launched an offensive against Kokang rebels.
Myanmar hoped to sign a long-delayed nationwide truce agreement on February 12, but the efforts were foiled due to re-eruption of fighting in the northern region.
Myanmar's government, which replaced junta rule in 2011, has vowed to end the civil wars, which have been flaring on and off since independence, as a key part of its reforms.
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