After just days of a surge in heavy fighting between ethnic rebels and police and military personnel, a curfew has been implemented in the town of Laukkai and its neighboring areas in northeastern Shan state’s Kokang region.
According to Kumudra, authorities announced yesterday that no one is allowed to go out after 5 pm.
“Everyone’s afraid to stay here. There’s not even one family left in 100 houses. People have been moving since this morning, and there’s almost no one left. There’s been shooting going on within the city all day. The Tatmadaw is now clearing the area,” a rescue worker told Kumudra.
Ground reports also confirmed that since yesterday morning, civilians have been packing bags and escaping to Lashio or neighboring Chinese villages; not only is Laukkai located on the Myanmar-China border, the Kokang region has strong ties with China, with local people speaking a Chinese dialect and generally using the Chinese yuan.
As of now, the road between nearby Yan Lone Kyaing and Laukkai remains closed off by the Tatmadaw.
Monday’s fighting began when rebels from the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) dressed in police uniforms and made a surprise raid on several police and military posts. The region has seen years of ongoing combat between the military and various ethnic minority militias, although this week’s attacks were some of the most intense bouts of violence in recent memory.
Yesterday, Beijing called on both the Tatmadaw and the rebel groups to halt the fighting. “Relevant parties should cease fire immediately and restore order to the border areas as soon as possible,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.