Fighting in Myanmar’s Kachin displaces over 200

World Bulletin / News Desk

 At least 200 people in Myanmar’s mountainous north have been forced to flee their homes amid recent clashes between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels, local media reported Monday.

Police said that three days of fighting with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had caused more than 50 families in Hpakant town to leave their residences and relocate to an internally displaced persons camp at a Baptist church, according to the Myanmar Times.

It also cited an aid agency operating in the area as saying around 200 people had arrived at the town, with more reportedly heading in the same direction.

Meanwhile, the KIA has accused the army — the Tatmadaw — of attacking one of its battalions with artillery.

“The reason behind the fighting is that the Tatmadaw want to take over the land that we control, so they warned us several times to remove our military camps,” said an officer from the group involved in conflict negotiation who wished to remain unnamed.

“I am worried the situation will get worse,” he told the Times. “The front line doesn’t trust the negotiating team because we held talks with the Tatmadaw team but the offensive didn’t stop.”

Kachin, a mountainous state bordering India and China, has been ravaged by fighting since an uneasy 17-year ceasefire ended in 2011. Since then, more than 100,000 people have fled their homes amid mortar explosions and gunfire.

Myanmar’s government has been battling various rebel groups for decades.

The reformist, semi-civilian government of President Thein Sein is hoping to sign a ceasefire deal with many of the groups, including the KIA, ahead of an election later this year.

Although the accord has been billed as nationwide, some groups still fighting the government have been excluded from the talks, leading to threats from other rebel leaders that they will refuse to sign.

While most have signed deals with the government, the KIA is among those that have yet to do so.

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