YANGON Jan 20 Myanmar troops attacked rebel
positions in northeast Kachin on Sunday despite a ceasefire
order from the president and an invitation to the rebels to take
part in peace talks, a rebel spokesman and a local source said.
President Thein Sein issued the ceasefire order to troops in
the La Ja Yang area of Kachin near the border with China, where
fighting has been fiercest.
It was due to take effect on Saturday morning, but Colonel
James Lum Dau, a Thai-based spokesman for the Kachin
Independence Army (KIA), told Reuters the army had continued to
attack over the weekend, both in La Ja Yang and elsewhere in the
An offensive in La Ja Yang from about 8 a.m. on Sunday
morning (0130 GMT) had involved artillery and infantry, he said.
A 17-year ceasefire with the KIA broke down in June 2011 and
fighting has been particularly intense in recent weeks.
Twenty months of fighting has displaced tens of thousands of
people and, for some analysts, raised doubts about the sincerity
of all the political and economic reforms pursued by Thein Sein
in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Addressing a development forum attended by donor countries
and international aid organisations on Saturday, Thein Sein had
invited the Kachin rebels to a "political dialogue" with rebels
from other states.
Ten other major rebel groups from various states have
already agreed to a ceasefire.
A local source in Kachin, who did not want to be identified,
confirmed the army attacks on Sunday, including one on a rebel
position about five miles (eight km) from the KIA stronghold of
Fighter jets had flown over the area but had not attacked,
the source said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch last week accused the army
of indiscriminately shelling the town of Laiza.
Loud explosions were also heard by residents of the town of
Mai Ja Yang who felt the vibrations, the source said.
MORE GOODWILL NEEDED
Colonel Lum Dau said the KIA had sent the president a reply
saying it would not attend talks until there was more evidence
of goodwill on the government side, involving a ceasefire in the
whole state, or at least a big reduction in fighting.
"We already agreed to a ceasefire in 1994 and look at where
we are now ... We didn't break any agreement," he said,
expressing KIA mistrust of central government that has persisted
even after Thein Sein took office in 2011 at the head of a
quasi-civilian government after half a century of military rule.
A statement from the Kachin Independence Organisation, the
political wing of the KIA, said "the government should reduce
offensive operations all over Kachin State instead of suspending
operations in La Ja Yang region". Further clarification of its
demands was not immediately available.
Lum Dau said the government was simply buying time and would
use any ceasefire to put troops in place for another assault on
He argued that it had only agreed to the partial ceasefire
in response to diplomatic pressure from the United States and
others, including China, which called for a halt to fighting on
Jan. 15 after a shell landed on its side of the border.
There was no immediate response from the government to the
rebel accusations of continued attacks in La Ja Yang, but it
said rebels were responsible for attacks elsewhere in Kachin at
Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said rebels attacked Kamine
police station in the Phakant area in the early hours of
Saturday, killing two policemen, wounding five and setting the
building on fire.
He also blamed rebels for setting off mines that wounded
about 20 people travelling in cars on the road from Bamaw to
Lwejei on Saturday.
(Writing and additional reporting by Alan Raybould; Editing by