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Burma targets Kachin rebels

by
11 January 2013

By a staff reporter

AP

Orderly queue: refugees from Kachin State wait for rations at Je Yang IDP camp, in Laiza, north-eastern Myanmar, last Friday

Orderly queue: refugees from Kachin State wait for rations at Je Yang IDP camp, in Laiza, north-eastern Myanmar, last Friday

THE Burmese government has admitted that it has carried out air strikes against rebels in the predominantly Christian northern Kachin State. The United States has expressed serious concerns about the air strikes.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, called on the government of Burma to "desist from any action that could endanger the lives of civilians". A spokesman for the Kachin Relief Fund, in the UK, said that air raids had been carried out almost daily since Christmas, and civilians had been frequently caught in the crossfire. Supporters were planning to demonstrate against the air strikes outside the Burmese embassy in London yesterday (10 January is Kachin State Day).

An estimated 75,000 civilians have been displaced by the conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the military. Although Burma has made huge strides in democracy and reform in recent years, many aid agencies have urged the international community to proceed with caution in its relations with the Burmese government.

The President of Burma, Thein Sein, said that the air strikes were acts of self-defence after rebels blocked transport routes.

The Burmese opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi was reported by Agence France-Presse to have said that it was up to the government to solve the situation in Kachin. She would not step in to work for peace in the conflict, she said, without government approval.

The fight against the Independence Army in Kachin State resumed in 2011 after a 17-year truce.

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