At least 160 people have died in about three months of clashes between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed groups near the border with China.
General Mya Tun Oo, the chief of Myanmar’s general staff, said on Tuesday that over 20,000 people had also been displaced since fighting erupted between the army and several of the groups in Myanmar’s northern state of Shan in late November 2016.
Giving the army’s first comprehensive toll from the ongoing fighting, the official said 74 soldiers, 15 police officers, 13 government militia fighters and 13 civilians had died.
“We have 45 dead bodies of enemies and arrested four,” he told reporters in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw.
The senior military official said hundreds more members of the armed groups may have been killed based on pictures of a mass funeral.
Fighting in Shan and the northern state of Kachin along the Myanmar-China border is getting worse day by day.
Bao Youxiang, the chairman of Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic rebel group, United Wa State Army (UWSA), also known as Wa, has threatened to derail the government’s push for peace as fierce fighting in the country’s restive borderlands has reached a critical point.
Eight armed ethnic groups earlier signed a statement, saying they would never agree to the government-backed ceasefire deal.
The clashes have also threatened the second round of peace talks slated for next month.
Last August, delegates from some rebel groups stormed out of the first round of the peace talks with Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi over a spat about their accreditation.
The government’s efforts to expand a ceasefire signed with some ethnic rebel groups in 2015 have faltered.
By Africafrique and agencies