Myanmar says 24 rebels killed in clashes near China border
BEIJING (AP) — Clashes between Myanmar forces and ethnic rebels in the northeast left at least 24 rebels killed, Myanmar officials said Friday, after Chinese officials said artillery shells injured five people on its side of the border.
Myanmar government soldiers and ethnic Kokang rebels have been fighting for several months in the country’s northeast, and Chinese officials have complained of several instances in which shells and airstrikes hit across the border.
The statement Myanmar’s Defense Ministry issued late Friday did not mention any shells falling into China. It said government troops occupied major rebel outposts Thursday and Friday, using artillery attacks and airstrikes, and that at least 24 rebels had been killed.
Chinese officials said earlier that shelling fired from Myanmar on Thursday injured five people and damaged four houses near the Yunnan province city of Lincang.
The Lincang government said in a news release that one Chinese national and four Burmese living in the border community were injured.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated China’s “strong dissatisfaction” and urged Myanmar to restore stability to the region “as soon as possible.”
Myanmar presidential spokesman Ye Htut said he could not confirm the incident, but he told The Associated Press that China should keep good control of its borders.
“If these countries want to prevent incidents like these, they should beef up border control and not allow rebel groups to operate in these areas,” Ye Htut said.
AP writer Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar, contributed to this report.