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Fighting rages on despite ceasefire

Shelling continues days after president's decree

Fighting rages on despite ceasefire
Buddhist monks and activists in Yangon march to protest over fighting in the ethnic area (AFP photo/Ye Aung Thu)
By John Zaw, Mandalay

January 21, 2013

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Artillery shelling and ground fighting by military troops continues today in Hka Ya, near La Ja Yang, despite a presidential ceasefire order on Friday.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) spokesperson La Nan said: “the president ordered a ceasefire but that announcement has yet to reach to the military troops. They are still attacking the KIA." 

At Mai Ja Yang, near the Chinese border, artillery shelling and bombing can still be heard, according to a Kachin aid worker in the area.

Father Stephen Nanzing confirmed to that he has seen fighting today near La Ja Yang and he also heard artillery shelling by military troops.

According to Fr Nanzing, injured soldiers from the KIA said yesterday that hundreds of military troops are moving forward.

On Saturday, the government offered to engage in peace talks with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), but the KIO said yesterday that negotiations cannot begin until fighting stops, La Nan said.

San Awng, a peace mediator in Myitkyina, agreed that the military must stop the ongoing attacks so that peace talks can begin.

“It’s a challenge to build trust, as the words of the government and the actions of the military troops on the ground are different,” Saw Awng said today.

A 17-year ceasefire between the government and the KIA broke down in June 2011.

Twenty months of fighting has displaced an estimated more than 100,000 Kachins and raised concern from the international community. 

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon yesterday welcomed the government’s ceasefire announcement.

“He calls upon both sides to make serious effort to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin through enhanced confidence building measures and political dialogue,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

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