Kachin rebels accuse military of disrupting ceasefire

Featured - January 21st, 2013

Ethnic rebels in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state accused the military of launching a fresh attack on Sunday, just days after the government pledged to put an end to the conflict which has displaced thousands of civilians and has drawn international concern.

Myanmar’s military announced it would cease attacks on the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), state television reported Friday night.

Military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing had agreed to implement President Thein Sein’s command “not to carry out offensive attacks except in self-defense” with effect from Saturday morning.

However, clashes reportedly persisted despite the ceasefire and calls from the parliament to end the fighting.

James Lum Dau, the Thailand-based spokesman for the KIA’s political wing Kachin Independene Organization (KIO), said the military plans to retake control of a strategically important hilltop just several kilometers away from the KIA headquarters in Laiza, using artillery shells and ground forces, reports the Times of India.

“They’re still fighting,” he said. “They want to take their artillery on the hilltop and then they will immediately do something to occupy Laiza”.

The Kachin rebels have not announced any ceasefire of their own, saying the regime is only trying to deflect international criticism. The government, on the other hand, said they are ready to hold peace talks.

This comes amid mounting concern that the escalating conflict would undermine reforms driven by President Thein Sein as Myanmar emerges from decades of isolation, Financial Times reports.