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Myanmar Troops Shell Hills Near China Border

FILE - Myanmar Red Cross members carry an injured victim during clash between government troops and Kokang rebels in northeastern Shan State, northeast of Yangon, Feb. 17, 2015.

Chinese troops are on high alert after Myanmar forces shelled the hills along the countries shared border, killing four people and leaving several others injured.

The shelling cames as clashes between Myanmar’s military and ethnic Chinese rebels continued in the northern area of the Kokang special region.

Kokang spokesperson Htun Myat Lin told VOA Burmese that stray shells from a Myanmar airstrike killed four Chinese villagers and wounded nine others Friday.

Myanmar’s military has declared martial law and a state of emergency in the Kokang, causing thousands to flee into China’s southern Yunnan province.

The Myanmar government has accused local Chinese officials and other ethnic groups of assisting the rebels and has called for China's help in preventing attacks launched across the border.

The Kokang offensive began February 9, when an alliance of armed groups, including the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), attacked multiple Myanmar military positions in an effort to regain land lost in a 2009 conflict. The MNDAA is the ethnic Kokang army under Peng Jiasheng, who ruled the Kokang self-administered region until the cease-fire, signed in 1989, broke down. He is believed to have been living in exile in China for the past five years.

The Kokang group has said it hopes to return to autonomous rule, and is unhappy about the imposition of martial law.