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Renewed fighting has broken out between Burmese government forces and the Kokang ethnic armed group Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) near the Sino-Burmese border.
MNDAA spokesman Tun Myat Linn said the rebel group engaged in four separate clashes with the Burmese army on 24 October alone.
“We saw intense gunfire throughout the day after government forces launched an offensive. There were four clashes that day, one of which lasted about three hours,” he said, adding that no details of casualties were yet available.
Hostilities erupted between government forces and the MNDAA in February and have continued for most of the year. Hundreds of causalities have been reported on both sides, and tens of thousands of Kokang villagers have been forced to flee their homes, many taking refuge on the Chinese side of the border.
A state of emergency in the region was extended by 90 days two months ago; it expires on 17 November.
On 15 October, eight armed groups signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. However, a majority of militias declined to sign, with several voicing opposition to Naypyidaw’s exclusion of the MNDAA and its allies from the accord.
Meanwhile, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has announced that it lost an outpost in northern Shan State on Sunday morning following three days of assaults by government forces.
Several battalions of the KIA have sided with the Kokang rebels in the area, and the Kachin group is perhaps the most prominent militia to have rejected the ceasefire agreement.
Col. Naw Bo of the KIA said the Burmese army launched an attack on its positions in Kutkai Township on 23 October, an area under the control of the group’s 4th Brigade.
“Skirmishes began on Friday, and I assume there will be loss of life on both sides as the fighting continued unabated for three consecutive days,” he said.
Naw Bo said the position captured by the Burmese army was a frontline outpost.
Read more on the Kokang conflict
Read more on the ceasefire agreement