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US urges Myanmar to halt ethnic attacks

world Updated: Sep 01, 2009 08:06 IST
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The United States on Tuesday urged the military junta in Myanmar to halt attacks on ethnic minorities, saying it was "deeply concerned" about the fighting.

The plea follows deadly clashes in a largely ethnic Chinese region of Myanmar as well as the junta's offensive in June against ethnic Karen rebels near the Thai border.

"We urge the Burmese authorities to cease their military campaign and to develop a genuine dialogue with the ethnic minority groups, as well as with Burma's democratic opposition," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

The junta-run television in Myanmar, earlier known as Burma, said Sunday that 26 state security personnel and eight ethnic rebel fighters had been killed in three days of clashes near the Chinese border.

Officials in China's southwestern Yunnan province said 37,000 refugees had streamed into the country from Myanmar following days of fighting in Kokang, a mainly ethnic Chinese region of Myanmar's Shan state.

Refugees headed back across the border with China today, but some said they feared a fresh outbreak of violence.

A renewed crackdown by government forces in early June caused 4,000 of the mainly Christian Karen to flee to neighboring Thailand, the largest group of refugees to cross in more than a decade, aid groups say.