Myanmar: Armed rebels in Myanmar`s war-torn Kachin state on Tuesday said they had released three police officers abducted in a raid last week during fresh clashes with the nation`s powerful army.
Tensions in Kachin have overshadowed Myanmar`s efforts to bring an end to its multiple civil conflicts in border areas -- a key component of the former junta-run nation`s political reforms.
The police, who were taken captive along with the Kachin state transport minister on January 15, were released on Monday, according to a spokesman for the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
"Because they were in uniform and fully-armed, our troops had a duty to detain them and ask some questions," La Nan told AFP, adding that an "unexpected" attack by the army had delayed their release.
The transport minister was freed soon after he was detained.
Conflict in Kachin has raged since a 17-year ceasefire between rebels and the government splintered in 2011, driving almost 100,000 civilians from their homes and into displacement camps.
The latest fighting flared up around Kachin`s Hpakant township, a jade-rich area near the border with China.
Activists say hundreds of people have been caught up in clashes, although rebels said the fighting has subsided.
Information Minister Ye Htut on Monday said elements within the KIA had "intentionally tried to disturb the nationwide ceasefire accord process" in a post on his Facebook page.
La Nan rebutted that claim, accusing the government of not being "genuine" about ending the conflict.
"When we almost reach an agreement, they suddenly say certain issues cannot be agreed by the Tatmadaw (army)," he said, adding that the military "always sends more troops" after they announce progress in peace talks.
Reaching a nationwide ceasefire deal with some 16 rebel groups is seen as a cornerstone of reforms by Myanmar`s quasi-civilian government, which replaced outright junta rule in 2011.