News Guide: Myanmar Troops, Ethnic Rebels in Fierce Fighting

February 23, 2015 10:36 AM

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The Kokang guerrillas were the main fighting force for the now-defunct Burmese Communist Party until signing a cease-fire with the then-military government in 1989. The group formally calls itself the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Party. Kokang leader Phone Kya Shin and his commanders fled Myanmar in 2009 after government forces raided a Kokang weapons factory and reportedly confiscated nearly 12 million methamphetamine tablets from the homes of the guerrillas' leaders. The Kokang said the raids were payback for their refusal to have their troops join a government border guard force. U.S. officials have long suspected Phone Kya Shin, also known as Peng Jiasheng, of playing a major role in drug trafficking, initially in opium and more recently in methamphetamines. Officials blame the renewed fighting on a renegade faction led by Phone Kya Shin, which attempted to seize Laukkai, the capital of the self-administered Kokang zone.

The government says its troops were attacked by Kokang rebels and regard the attack as a threat to state sovereignty. President Thein Sein said he will not give "an inch of territory" to the rebels, and the government has said it will not negotiate a ceasefire as it is an attack on their territory. ...

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