10 March, 2017
Civilians abandoned a battle-scared town along Myanmar's border with China on Wednesday, saying they feared an imminent army crackdown in retaliation for a deadly raid by ethnic rebels.
A hotel worker in the Chinese town of Nan San said many people from Myanmar were looking for a place to stay, and for food.
This week, the Myanmar government said at least 30 people were killed in fighting triggered by a pre-dawn attack by an ethnic rebel group.
He said that all sides needed to find a peaceful solution through dialogue and urged restraint to "prevent further escalation" and "to restore peace and stability to the border areas".
"We ethnic armed groups have to fight back to protect our territories because the government army is making a war of aggression, he said".
During the 2015 conflicts, almost 50 soldiers died, while tens of thousands fled across the border to China's southern province of Yunnan.
Scores of people died in 2015 when MNDAA troops entered the Kokang self-administered region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called for an immediate ceasefire in response to the hostilities and said that China was providing assistance on humanitarian grounds on Tuesday, according to Reuters.More news: Cruising for a bruising: Ship nearly crashes into Florida home
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has made it her goal since coming to power less than one year ago to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the country's ethnic minorities, but the latest fighting would seem to represent a step backward.
It said the attack on the government-controlled town of Laukkai killed five policemen and five civilians.
The latest clashes are in northeastern Shan state, which has seen repeated bouts of heavy fighting between the army and a band of well-armed ethnic minority militias since November, undercutting a government peace bid.
The Northern Alliance, a coalition of rebel groups including the MNDAA and the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA), confirmed its participation on Facebook, where it claimed to launch the the attack "to resist an enemy offensive in self-defense".
Myanmar nationals from other parts of the country and Chinese who work in the city close to the border with China have been trying to return home to safety, they said.
"Residents in town are fleeing", an army officer told AFP. But the Kokang conflict has raised tensions with its giant neighbor.
"With this attack, we taught a lesson to the Tatmadaw who have destroyed peace in the Union for over half a century", said the statement.
The military said it recovered 20 charred bodies it says belonged to fallen insurgents.