Rebels clash with govt troops in Myanmar

2015-01-16 13:38
Ta’ang National Liberation army officers sit in the ground listening to a speech of a leader during a function to mark the 52nd Ta'ang revolution day in Mar-Wong, a self-governing area, in northern Myanmar. (Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP)

Ta’ang National Liberation army officers sit in the ground listening to a speech of a leader during a function to mark the 52nd Ta'ang revolution day in Mar-Wong, a self-governing area, in northern Myanmar. (Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP)

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Yangon - Rebel militants clashed with government troops in northern Myanmar's Kachin State amid stalled ceasefire talks, an activist said on Friday.

"Nearly 700 civilians, including 200 students and 20 teachers have been trapped here since yesterday" by the fighting, local rights activist Sarji told dpa by phone from Hpakant township near the affected rural area.

"We are very worried as neither side ever looks out for civilians," said Sarji, of the Kachin Social Development Network.

Fighting broke out when the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) captured the state's minister for transport on Wednesday.

The minister was released the same day, but three police taken at the same time were still being held, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said on Thursday.

Around 1 000 villagers fled mortar fire from both sides to take shelter in churches and monasteries in nearby Hpakant, Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday.

Tensions have spiked since the army dropped a shell on a training camp in Kachin state that left 23 rebels dead in November. The military said it was a warning shot gone astray.

Fighting in northern Myanmar has displaced more than 100 000 people since a ceasefire between the government and the KIA broke down in 2011.

The government is in talks with numerous militant groups, but a nationwide ceasefire agreement with all the groups has been repeatedly delayed, in part due to November's shelling.

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