21 February 2018

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02/18/2015 MYANMAR

Myanmar declares state of emergency in Kokang region

Martial law will remain in force for three months. Yesterday a Red Cross convoy was attacked for the first time, two wounded. Concern in China for a possible mass exodus of refugees, thousands of civilians fleeing.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Myanmar's President Thein Sein has declared a state of emergency in the Kokang region, Shan State in eastern Myanmar, on the border with China, imposing martial law for the next three months.

The announcement came last night in a speech broadcast on state television and follows the recent violence in the area. The clashes between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the military broke out February 9, causing at least 47 deaths among soldiers and 26 among the rebels, thousands of civilians have fled the area seeking shelter in safer areas.

Yesterday two unknown assailants opened fire on a Myanmar Red Cross convoy (MRCS), injuring two people. The vehicles were carrying a group of civilians displaced by fighting in Laukkai, near the Chinese border. This is the first attack in the history of the country in a vehicle with the image of the institution humanitarian.

"They had never been attacks of this kind in the past," said Myint Shwe Cin, MRCS spokesman. "This is the first." At least one hundred people were part of the convoy and  many speak of a "miracle" that they were not killed.

According to Burmese soldiers MNDAA militias are responsible for the attack, but there has been no independent verification. Witnesses describe bullets "from both sides of the street". The shoot-out lasted at least an hour.

The clashes have sounded the alarm for Beijing, which fears a massive influx of refugees from Myanmar, and is clamoring for peace along the Burmese-Chinese border.

The Kokang are an ethnic group descended from the Han Chinese and their armed wing is what remains of the Communist Party of Burma, dissolved in 1989. For years they have independently ruled a strip of land along the northeastern border between China and Myanmar.

In 2009, fighting between ethnic militias and the army pushed tens of thousands of civilians across the border, in south-western China, placing a serious strain on relations with Beijing.

For decades the government of Myanmar - a nation composed of 135 ethnic groups, often in conflict with the central power - sought to contain the conflict with rebel groups seeking greater autonomy, particularly the Kachin and Shan.

Burmese President Thein Sein has long worked to reach a peace agreement; many groups are ready to sign up, despite sporadic outbreaks of violence and clashes with the regular army.


See also

17/04/2015 MYANMAR
Myanmar military clash with Kokang rebels, 16 soldiers killed and over a hundred wounded
The fighting took place in north-eastern Myanmar, along the border with China. The military told displaced people to return home. But people are afraid of retaliation and more violence. So far, it is unclear how many people have died or are wounded. Aid workers have been denied access to the area where fighting is taking place.

10/03/2017 12:39:00 MYANMAR - CHINA
Clashes between rebels and government forces: 20,000 civilians flee to China

Thousands receive Chinese humanitarian aid. New violence erupted on 6 March. At least 30 people were killed on the border between Myanmar and China following a surprise raid launched by the rebels. The intensification of the conflict has raised tensions between the two countries. The Chinese foreign minister: "Restore peace and stability at the border areas."


27/08/2009 MYANMAR - CHINA
Thousands of civilians flee conflict between Burmese army and Shan rebels
Witnesses describe a "mass exodus". The refugees accommodated in camps set up by the Chinese government in Nansas, a town near the border between Myanmar and China. The Burmese army launched an offensive to force the rebels to surrender;, the government wants them to cooperate in the defence of national borders.

13/02/2015 MYANMAR
Shan, clashes between Burmese army and rebel Kokang: 47 dead and over 70 injured
For over a week violence between the military and ethnic militias has raged on the border with China. At least 10 thousand civilians flee the area. Local sources speak of two dead and one wounded among the militiamen. Stalemate in yesterday's talks between the government and rebel groups for viable peace agreement.

11/09/2017 11:00:00 MYANMAR
Rakhine, government rejects the ceasefire offered by Rohingya militants

Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi's spokesman: "We do not negotiate with terrorists." The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) announces the truce until 9 October for humanitarian purposes. Army: Nearly 400 Islamic militants have been killed so far. The exodus of about 300,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh. The displaced among the ethnic groups are 30,000.

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