19 dead in fighting between army and rebels — Myanmar military

14 May, 2018, 07:00 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Those fleeing violence have sheltered in tents and even churches in Kachin which is mainly Christian as rights groups accuse the military of blocking aid

Eighteen civilians and a policeman were killed in Myanmar's eastern Shan State on Saturday when an ethnic armed group attacked a town, government spokesperson Zaw Htay told dpa.

Rights defenders say clashes in the north near the main border gate with China have ramped up since January as the worldwide community focuses on the Rohingya crisis in the west of the country.

Myanmar's military frequently clashes with several groups, which say they are fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic minorities in the area, through which much of Myanmar's foreign trade flows.

The TNLA claimed that its attack was a response to the Myanmar Army's recent offensives against the Kachin Independence Army, which is one Myanmar's most powerful ethnic minority armed groups. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and data of the text.

"The attack to target innocent people is not asking for ethnic rights", he said. He told dpa earlier that just 17 people were killed in the attack.

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At least nine activists have been charged under Myanmar's draconian Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, according to statements released by Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights after protests were organized in four cities across Myanmar in the past week. "We are sorry. But it's hard to say how they were killed during the fighting", said the TNLAA spokesman.

A further 20 civilians were wounded, a spokesman said.

In 2017, Chinese authorities estimated a flare-up of violence to have sent more than 20,000 refugees across the border, and fighting in 2009 and 2015 displaced tens of thousands of people.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi said ending Myanmar's long history of clashes was her main priority after she took power in 2016, but she shares power with the military that fought the insurgencies for decades. Two of the attacks occurred at military bases and the other at a bridge.

Reverend Hkalam Samsun, chairman of the Kachin Baptist Convention, said the Kachin people were "disappointed" with Suu Kyi.

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