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Burma to End Offensive Against Kachin Rebels

Burma says it will end its offensive against ethnic minority rebels in the northern state of Kachin, in light of growing international criticism.

The government's information ministry on Friday announced a halt to military operations in the area.

The move comes as fighting between Kachin rebels and Burmese forces has moved closer to rebel headquarters in the town of Laiza and to a large number of displaced people.

The latest clashes have represented a major escalation in the fighting because the government has carried out air strikes against rebels in Kachin state. The escalation is seen as threatening Burma's reform process.

The United States and the United Nations have urged Burma's government to stop the air strikes. International aid groups say the military's artillery and air strikes are indiscriminate and violate international humanitarian law.

Human Rights Watch demanded Friday that Burma's army cease attacks against Kachin rebels. The rights group also urged military forces to allow humanitarian aid to reach at-risk populations.

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