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Thousands flee Myanmar into China after standoff

Thousands flee Myanmar into China after standoff

Thousands of people have fled from northeastern Myanmar into China this month after tensions flared between government troops and ethnic minority groups, according to witnesses, an activist group and state media Wednesday.
Several thousand people a day have been streaming over the border into the town of Nansan in southern Yunnan province since Monday, one resident said. Some 10,000 have fled the Kokang area in Myanmar's northeastern Shan state between Aug. 7 and Aug. 12 following a military confrontation, The Chongqing Evening Post reported Wednesday.
The U.S. Campaign for Burma, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, issued a statement saying the problems began when hundreds of Myanmar troops were deployed in Kokang, a mostly ethnic Chinese region. Myanmar is also known as Burma.
The ruling military junta has been pressuring ethnic rebel groups to transfer their fighters to the government's control _ something they are reluctant to do _ as part of "border guard forces" before general elections next year, according to a statement by the rebels, who are part of an alliance of four ethnic groups called the Myanmar Peace and Democracy Front.
"Tensions between the junta and these cease-fire groups are extremely high and military confrontations between them are appearing frequently," said the statement, which the advocacy group released on the rebels' behalf.
The rebel statement said the standoff was triggered after Myanmar troops tried to raid the home of a rebel leader, where illegal drugs were allegedly being produced.
In China, a staffer from the Zhenkang County Public Security Bureau surnamed Li confirmed that large groups of people from Myanmar came to Nansan, though she gave no details.
A local business owner who only gave his name as Liu said the refugees have arrived in distinct waves. The first came between Aug. 8 and Aug. 12. Many returned home after a few days, he said.
However, since Monday, several thousand people a day have returned to Nansan because of fears over the spreading conflict between armed groups, he said. Liu said some of his Burmese business partners and friends have sold off their jewelry, mobile phones and other valuables to flee.
"Businesses have been badly affected," Liu said. "Many people from Burma usually cross the border to buy clothes and other things. ... Not many people are coming to shop now."
Liu said the local government has set up refugee camps, while some people have been moving further into China.


Updated : 2021-06-15 13:00 GMT+08:00