Myanmar aid group asks ceasefire to evacuate trapped civilians

Aid workers called today for a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of people trapped around a town at the centre of fierce fighting between Myanmar's army and ethnic rebels, after the deaths of two more civilians in an area cloaked by a state of emergency.

AFP| Updated: Feb 19, 2015, 13:39 PM IST

Lashio (Myanmar): Aid workers called today for a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of people trapped around a town at the centre of fierce fighting between Myanmar's army and ethnic rebels, after the deaths of two more civilians in an area cloaked by a state of emergency.

Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled the remote and rugged Kokang area of northeastern Shan State over the last 10 days, with at least 30,000 crossing the border into China.

Local aid groups have officially suspended rescue convoys to and around the flashpoint town of Laukkai, where a series of surprise attacks by ethnic Kokang rebels last week sparked the flare up of violence.

The decision follows an attack on a convoy led by the Myanmar Red Cross that wounded two aid workers on Tuesday.

"We still do not know exactly how many people are still trapped in the Laukkai region... But we evacuated around 30 people from there on Wednesday," a Myanmar Red Cross member told AFP in the Shan town of Lashio, some 140 kilometres (85 miles) south of Laukkai.

"We are asking both sides to keep a ceasefire for a few days, so we can help to evacuate people. Currently, even our Red Cross logo cannot help to protect people. It's really sad."