As heavy fighting continues between Myanmar government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels, nearly 2,000 civilians have become trapped in the crossfire, leading to concerns for their safety.
A local Kachin leader in the Phakent area, who did not want to be named, told VOA's Burmese service hundreds have fled to the village of Kan See.
"We are concerned on the situation and their security since the fighting may happen again anytime. All the ways to the area have been blocked since around 10 days ago. the original population of Kan See village is around one thousands. So 2,000 locals may have difficulties to get basic foods,” said the local Kachin leader.
Kachin peace negotiator La Mai Kun Jar said officials have blocked his group from visiting the area.
“Local authorities did not allow us to visit there because of security reasons. They also said the situation is now stable and we do not need to bring [the civilians] to the safe place. The military commander of the area said they will take care all our concerns,” said La Mai Kun Jar.
VOA's efforts to get a response from the government were unsuccessful. It is not yet clear how many soldiers and rebels have been killed during more than a week of intense fighting.
The Kachin are one of several ethnic groups that have been fighting against the Myanmar government for decades. Most of the groups currently have cease-fire agreements with the Myanmar military.
Meanwhile, China's state-backed Global Times reported that many Chinese nationals are among civilians trapped in the area, which borders southern China. A Chinese spokeswoman said it is not true, however, that a large number of Chinese citizens are trapped in the area.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.