Two dead in fight­ing in Myan­mar town

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YANGON: Two civil­ians were killed yes­ter­day when fight­ing broke out in a north­ern Myan­mar town on the border with China, a re­gion long plagued by eth­nic rebel in­sur­gen­cies. The lat­est clashes are an­other blow to civil­ian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s hopes of forg­ing a na­tion­wide peace agree­ment af­ter years of war in Myan­mar’s many eth­nic mi­nor­ity border re­gions.

Lo­cals in the town of Muse, a hot­bed of smug­gling, re­ported that fight­ing be­gan in the early morn­ing. “Peo­ple from (the) border check­point are now flee­ing to Muse be­cause of heavy fight­ing,” Aye Aye, a res­i­dent of the town, told AFP. “A man and a woman died be­cause of gun­shot wounds af­ter they ar­rived in hos­pi­tal this morn­ing,” said a worker at the lo­cal hos­pi­tal, ask­ing for anonymity, adding that some 25 oth­ers were wounded.

Fight­ing be­tween Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin state, which reignited in 2011 af­ter the col­lapse of a 17-year cease­fire, has dis­placed around 100,000 peo­ple and spilled over into parts of neigh­bor­ing Shan state.

Muse lies in the north of Shan, not far from Kachin, and is sep­a­rated from China by a river. Two rebel rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­firmed their troops were in­volved in the clashes. “We are fight­ing to­gether with our al­liance of eth­nic armed groups,” Khine Thu Kha, from the Arakan Army, told AFP.

The rebels said the groups in­volved in­cluded the pow­er­ful KIA, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army and the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army. The lat­ter three have not been in­vited to the cur­rent or last round of peace talks. One of Suu Kyi’s pri­or­i­ties is a peace deal with the patch­work of armed mi­nori­ties fight­ing the state.

But con­tin­u­ing fight­ing in Kachin and Shan states over­shad­owed the peace talks and it is ex­pected to take years to end the com­plex con­flicts. In Septem­ber re­newed clashes broke out in south­ern Karen state be­tween the mil­i­tary and rebels. The north­ern half of the west­ern state of Rakhine is cur­rently un­der a mil­i­tary lock­down af­ter a string of deadly at­tacks against border posts last month.

More than 30,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed and at least 70 peo­ple killed in the lat­est fight­ing in Rakhine. Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary has a long his­tory of rights abuses that has fos­tered a deep mis­trust among eth­nic mi­nori­ties of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

Suu Kyi also has limited con­trol over the army which re­tains 25 per­cent of par­lia­men­tary seats as well as key de­fence and se­cu­rity po­si­tions in gov­ern­ment.

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