Myanmar troops to halt attacks on Kachin rebels, government says

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 2:49am


Myanmar announced an end to a military offensive against ethnic minority rebels in the northern state of Kachin yesterday in the face of international concern.

The statement from the Ministry of Information came hours after the country's fledgling parliament passed a motion calling for a halt to the fighting, which has marred optimism about the country's political reforms.

"The commander-in-chief reaffirmed that the Tatmadaw [military] will follow the command of the president not to carry out offensive attacks except in self-defence," it said. "But in an armed conflict, both sides need to halt attacks to cool tensions," it added.

The next step in advancing the process is not immediately clear, given that the new parliament has sat for only a handful of sessions since the country emerged from one-party military rule two years ago.

The conflict between troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had escalated recently with military air strikes, prompting the United States and the UN to voice concern.

President Thein Sein's reformist government said a year ago that it had ordered the military to halt offensives against ethnic minority rebels, but the Kachin conflict continued, raising doubts about his control over the armed forces.

The government had said the recent strikes were to regain control of a strategic hill in the La Gyar Yang area.

Additional reporting by Reuters