By Kyaw Ye Lynn
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Myanmar’s northern Shan State amid continued fighting between government troops and ethnic rebels, according to the United Nations on Monday.
Fighting has intensified in the mountainous area along Myanmar’s eastern border with China since March 6 when an ethnic Kokang rebel group -- the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) -- attacked the small town of Laukkai.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that ongoing fighting in Shan has forced more than 20,000 refugees across the border into China.
“In addition, humanitarian organizations estimate more than 10,000 migrant workers left Laukkai to return home to other parts of the country,” the agency said in its weekly report Monday.
OCHA added that at least four civilians were also reported to have been killed in fighting between the Myanmar military and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Kutkai Township of Shan last week.
Around 100 people, including dozens of soldiers and nine civilians, were reportedly killed in the fighting in Shan since earlier this month.
Shan has seen a series of intense fighting after the combined forces of the Northern Alliance -- MNDAA, TNLA, the powerful Kachin Independence Army and Arakan Army -- attacked military checkpoints, police stations and a trade zone in the area in November.
Last month, Myanmar’s military said at least 160 people -- including 74 soldiers, 15 police, 13 local militias and 13 civilians -- have died during the fighting since November.
It added that at least 45 rebels have been killed and four were arrested alive by troops.
The army-run Myawaddy newspaper reported Sunday that troops seized two strategic hills in the Kokang area and killed at least six rebels last week.