EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING
New fighting in Kachin State has left over 20 dead after a mortar attack on a training facility yesterday.
A compound outside Laiza, Kachin State was shelled yesterday afternoon by members of the Tatmadaw, killing as many as 23 cadets of the Kachin Independence Army or KIA. Around 15 other KIA members were reportedly injured in the attack, a release from the group said.
The government did not respond to requests for comment.
The attack is reported to be the largest in recent months in a conflict that has uprooted tens of thousands of people.
A 17-year ceasefire between the KIA and the Myanmar military broke down in June 2011. The United Nations estimates that around 100,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in the resource-rich Kachin State.
The attack comes as the government and armed ethnic groups are struggling to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement. The most recent round of talks between the government’s Union Peace-Making Working Committee and Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team yielded no major breakthrough.
The government has signed ceasefires with 14 of the 16 major armed ethnic groups, but deals with the KIA and Ta'ang National Liberation Army or TNLA in eastern Shan state have proved difficult to secure.
The attack came just days after the end of the ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw and the visit of US President Barack Obama and in the midst of a parliamentary debate on amending the 2008 Constitution.
One military MP, speaking on the day of the attack, cited the lack of peace in the country as one reason why an amendment of the constitution would not be wise at this juncture.
With additional reporting from AFP