News / Asia

Burma Clashes Raise Concern of Spreading Conflict

Daniel Schearf

Fighting in northeast Burma between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels has spilled over into neighboring Shan state, raising concerns about the conflict spreading. Thousands of villagers have fled to the border with China, which is urging restraint from both sides.

Sporadic clashes continued Thursday between Burma's army and ethnic Kachin rebels near a mountainous border with China.

The fighting in northern Kachin state, which started a week ago, has spilled into neighboring Shan state, home to the ethnic Shan.

The Shan Herald, an exiled media group based in Thailand, reported that Wafive Burma army battalions were moving in on another rebel group, the Shan State Army.

The spreading fight raises concerns that the conflict could quickly get out of control.

Khuensai Jaiyen, editor for the Shan Herald, says if other ethnic rebels join the fight it could become a larger war. He says ethnic leaders are hoping that Beijing will intervene to stop the fighting before it gets worse.

"They think that China has a lot of stake in the security and stability of the border," said Khuensai.  "Even Beijing had said so since the Burma army attacked Kokang, another ethnic group, in 2009."

The fighting two years ago between the Burmese army and Kokang rebels sent thousands of villagers fleeing into China. The instability prompted Beijing to issue a rare criticism of the government of Burma, a close ally.

The latest fighting broke out in a region where China is building hydropower plants. It is not clear what sparked the clashes. Khuensai says fighting began when Burma sent soldiers to ensure security at the plants while other reports say a prisoner exchange between the two sides went bad.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday said Beijing is concerned about the fighting.

He says they are following the situation along the border closely and urge all parties to exert calmness and restraint to avoid escalating the situation and to resolve their differences through negotiation.

The clashes in Kachin state this past week also sent thousands of villagers toward China, but reports say Chinese authorities stopped most of them at the border.

Hong denies China is blocking those fleeing the fighting.

The Washington-based rights group U.S. Campaign for Burma says several soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Burma's government has not issued any official comments on the clashes and it is almost impossible to confirm the details as the area is remote and journalists are not allowed to visit.

The Kachin Independence Army, like several other ethnic militias, signed cease-fire agreements with Burmese authorities in the 1990s, ending years of fighting for independence.

But some hostilities resumed in 2009 when the military began pressuring groups to come under their authority as a border protection force.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More