Myanmar Leader Vows to Defend Territory in Fight With Rebels

Myanmar declared a state of emergency in northeastern Shan state after week-long clashes between government forces and ethnic rebels, as President Thein Sein said he wouldn’t lose “an inch of territory” in the fighting.

Martial law was imposed in Laukki town, where two soldiers were injured in clashes with members of the Kokang ethnic army, the information ministry said on its website Tuesday.

Fighting between government troops and Kokang rebels from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army near the border with China has killed dozens since violence flared up on Feb. 9. Chinese officials said more than 30,000 people have fled across the border, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

“Recent attacks by Kokang renegade group and other armed groups in Kokang region directly affected the life and property of local people,” the Myanmar government said in a press release carried Tuesday by the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. The government and army “will be carrying out necessary measures to protect the life and property of people and to maintain peace, stability, law and order.”

The Kokang rebels are one of several ethnic groups that have been fighting for independence or autonomy in Myanmar, which until a semi-civilian government won elections in 2011 was run by a military junta. While several rebel armies have cease-fire agreements with the government, the Kokang’s two-decade old detente was broken in 2009 in a government assault.

The government last week announced that at least 47 soldiers had been killed in the fighting and more than 70 wounded, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar. The government reported 26 rebels were killed over the weekend, the newspaper said.

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