Security, rebels clash near Mynamar-China border; 30 dead

China says more than 20,000 people from neighboring Myanmar have fled across the border into China after months of violence between ethnic rebel groups and government forces, including fighting this week that killed at least 30 people.

In an echo of 2015 when Laukkai was also the scene of intense fighting, some families fled south to the Shan state town of Lashio, taking with them rumours of a looming army "clearance operation".

Yang compared the scenes to those in 2015, when tens of thousands escaped fighting between the army and the predominantly ethnic Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) - the same group that attacked on Monday.

"We ethnic armed groups have to fight back to protect our territories because the government army is making a war of aggression, he said".

Scores of people died in 2015 when MNDAA troops entered the Kokang self-administered region.

"The situation in northern Myanmar relates to the peace and tranquillity of the China-Myanmar border", Geng had said on 8 March.

He urged both sides to adopt peaceful means in resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation.

The latest clashes are in Shan, a northeastern state which has seen repeated bouts of fighting between the army and ethnic minority groups since November, undercutting a government peace bid.

"Access to displaced people in Non-Government Controlled Areas is severely restricted for global organizations", the update said.

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The renewed clashes are said to have caused a huge blow to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's chief goal of reaching a peace deal with ethnic minorities in the country.

The attack came after the Nobel Peace Prize victor met a delegation of ethnic armed groups last week to convince them to participate in a major peace conference.

"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.

Kokang has close ties to China, with locals speaking a Chinese dialect and using the yuan as currency.

An army source requesting anonymity said "about 7,000 local residents are fleeing to the China side because of fighting".

It added that a further 20 "burned bodies" had been found alongside weapons.

Observers believe Beijing holds some sway over the ethnic fighters and has a key role to play in peace talks that Myanmar's de facto leader Ms Suu Kyi has tried to revive since coming to power past year.

The Northern Alliance, an umbrella group of rebels including the MNDAA, which has yet to join national peace talks, confirmed its members were fighting in Laukkai.

  • Toni Ryan