Myanmar state media blames rebels for clashes

Myanmar state media on Saturday accused ethnic minority rebels of starting deadly fighting near the Chinese border as an official confirmed civilians were fleeing the clashes.

Yangon: Myanmar state media on Saturday accused
ethnic minority rebels of starting deadly fighting near the
Chinese border as an official confirmed civilians were fleeing
the clashes.

In the first state news reports about the violence in
Myanmar`s far north, the New Light of Myanmar said government
troops had acted to defend a hydropower plant, which is being
built to provide power to China.

"The only objective of the Tatmadaw (army) in
launching attacks on (Kachin Independence Army) KIA is just to
protect its members and an important hydropower project of the
nation," the report said.

A government official confirmed that the clashes with
the KIA, which started near the dam project in Kachin State
more than a week ago, had continued into today.

"The KIA has destroyed many bridges in that region and
security is very tight. Some civilians are fleeing to border
areas to avoid the fighting," the official said.

Rebels blame the government for starting the clashes
and claim more than 10,000 people have massed on the Myanmar
side of the frontier.

They have said many people have fled to KIA-held areas
as they look to avoid being forced into carrying supplies for
the Myanmar military.

Neither the Myanmar official, nor the news report gave
numbers of civilians displaced in the fighting.

The newspaper said Myanmar and its Chinese partner, a
subsidiary of China Datang Corporation, had "invested heavily"
in the dam project.

It added that fighting had caused 215 Chinese workers
from the project to be sent back to China.

On Thursday China, one of the Myanmar military`s
closest allies, urged both sides to "resolve their differences
through peaceful negotiations".

The mainly Baptist and Catholic Kachin account for
about seven per cent of Myanmar`s population and an insurgency
agitating for greater autonomy gathered momentum from the
1960s until a ceasefire was signed in 1994.

PTI

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