- Special Pages
NAYPYIDAW: Kachin rebels cast doubt yesterday over a Myanmar government pledge to end a military offensive after weeks of intense fighting that sparked international concern amid reports of fresh shelling.
The government move on Friday came after the country’s fledgling parliament called for a halt to the fighting, which has left dozens reported dead in northern Kachin state and marred optimism about the country’s political reforms.
The conflict between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has escalated in recent weeks with the use of air strikes by the military, prompting the United States and the United Nations to speak out.
The halt to the offensive was due to take effect from 6am yesterday but the political wing of the KIA said it was sceptical.
“The Burmese... never keep promises,” Thailand-based spokesman James Lum Dau said, adding “several minutes of shelling” had taken place on Saturday near Laiza, the rebel base since the resumption of fighting in 2011.
A witness said that an uneasy peace prevailed in the city itself.
A KIA official, requesting anonymity, said the military had gained “the upper hand” by surrounding Laiza and was therefore able to declare an end to the offensive from a position of strength. But he cautioned that the rebels would “wait and see” if military operations ceased.