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Fresh Myanmar fighting erupts, one dead

world Updated: Aug 29, 2009 10:35 IST

Reuters
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Fresh fighting in northeast Myanmar erupted on Saturday morning, after days of clashes that killed at least one person on Chinese territory and sent dozens of wounded to hospitals along the Chinese border.

Tens of thousands have fled to the border town of Nansan in China's Yunnan province this month after clashes in Kokang in Myanmar's Shan state, following the deployment of Myanmar government troops in the area.

One person was killed and several people were injured by a bomb thrown across the Chinese border on Friday, He Yongchun, deputy president of Yunnan branch of the Chinese Red Cross told the China Daily.

A man surnamed Li from a health centre in Nansan said at least one person was killed and two local farmers wounded in the fighting, without giving details. It was unclear if he was referring to the same incident reported by China Daily.

"We have received at least 22 injured people sent from Nansan. Most of them are from Myanmar," a woman working at the surgical department of Zhenkang People's Hospital told Reuters by phone. Nansan is a town in Zhenkang county.

China has called on Myanmar to maintain stability in the border region and urged more measures to protect the security and legal rights of Chinese citizens there.

Beijing is one of Myanmar's few diplomatic backers, often coming to the rescue when it is subjected to pressure by Western governments over issues such as the imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A fresh wave of "furious" fighting erupted in the border area at around 8:15 Saturday morning and is continuing, according to a report on the website of the Chinese newspaper Global Times (www.huanqiu.com).

Reports from Chinese media and Myanmar groups in exile said the fighting began after the Myanmar military, allied with a local splinter group, took control of facilities run by the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army in Laogai, the capital of Shan state. The MNDAA had observed a ceasefire since 1989.

Ethnic Chinese

Covering an area of over 10,000 square kilometers, the Kokang region bordering China's Yunnan Province has a population of about 150,000. It is home to a large number of ethnic Chinese, many of whom are Chinese citizens who own shops or trading businesses in Myanmar.

The refugees include Myanmar citizens as well as some Chinese businesspeople, Yu Chunyan, press officer of Yunnan Foreign Affairs Office, told the Global Times.

Thousands more are trapped in Kokang, where there are now food and water shortages, the paper said on its website.

A Chinese grocer who fled the area told Reuters on Friday that some merchants who stayed beyond to protect their property had been killed.

Security forces have been beefed up along the border region, a lush, forested area of low hills, to prevent the conflict from spilling into Yunnan. Police cars were seen on the roads headed to Nansan, Global Times said.