Myanmar says ethnic rebels stage raid on northeastern town

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More than 20,000 people from northern Myanmar have fled to neighbouring China in recent months, seeking refuge from deadly fighting between ethnic groups and the army, according to government officials in Beijing.

Some 36 families displaced from fighting in Laukkai arrive in a Buddhist monastery in Lashio Township, Shan State.

Four other traffic police were reportedly taken hostage by Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) members.

Geng further added that the situation in Northern Myanmar concerns peace and tranquillity in the border areas between China and Myanmar.

A separate group of fighters later attacked locations in the main town.

Fierce gun battles, artillery strikes and fires rocked the town, prompting thousands to flee south or over the border into China.

Following closely the military conflict at the border area of China- Myanmar in the Kokang region, China on Tuesday urges the concerned parties to maintain conducive to peace.

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi's office released a statement saying, "According to initial information, many innocent civilians, including a primary school teacher, were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group". "Parties concerned should stay committed to peacefully resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation".

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Fierce fighting between the government and the rebel group, which represents the Kokang, an ethnic Chinese minority, last occurred in 2015, sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing across the border to China.

Khu Oo Reh, leader of the UNFC delegation, said Friday that if Myanmar's powerful military agreed to their nine-point proposal, the rebel alliance would sign the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) - inked by the previous quasi-civilian government and eight out of the 15 groups invited.

China is providing humanitarian assistance and working to stabilize the region, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

But fighting has surged since past year as the army clashes with several different ethnic armed groups, undermining a government bid to forge peace.

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.

An army source told AFP fighting was continuing as darkness fell.

This week, about 30 people were killed in an attack by ethnic Chinese insurgents in Laukkai, the capital of Myanmar's restive region of Kokang, about 800 km (500 miles) northeast of the commercial hub Yangon. "We do not know exact figures yet". But the Kokang conflict has raised tensions with its giant neighbor.

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