Myanmar army ends offensive against Kachin rebels

This handout picture provided by Kachin Land on January 14, 2013 shows the body of a man killed during artillery fire in Laiza on January 14, 2013.

The Myanmar government yesterday announced that the army has ended its attacks on rebels in northern Kachin State with effect from today.

The government's information team released an eight-point statement, which was aired by state-owned media at 8pm yesterday.

The statement said the chief of Myanmar's armed forces had reconfirmed that the army would exactly follow the president's order to stop its military operations in Lajayan area in Kachin State beginning at 6am today.

The statement said military columns started to raid the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) outposts in Lajayan region, including Point 771 on December 27 as KIA troops had committed destructive acts such as blocking the Lajayan government army camp, ambushing army soldiers, blocking Myitkyina-Bhamo Union Highway and blowing up bridges since March last year.

The army has launched strikes in 'self-defence' since fighting resumed in June 2011. The KIA troops however staged ambushes on the army soldiers three times, killing 35 and wounding 190 others.

The statement also said Lajayan was already deployed by the government army before the KIA had its Laiza headquarters prior to the ceasefire between both sides in 1994. The government army inevitably had to clear the Lajayan area in order to send rations to the military camp.

The airstrikes were launched in order to target the KIA outposts avoiding civilian targets. Its offensive was partly due to the KIA's failure to accept the government's peace offer like Shweli peace talks.

According to the statement, the army chief also said that the army follows the president's order to stop attacking except defending themselves. Moreover both sides need to stop offensive launch to avoid tension in the armed conflict. Thus, the army advised the KIO (Kachin Independence Organisation)/KIA not to attack first to the government army.

During the period between December 10, 2011 and January 15, this year after the army had received the order from the president office to stop offensive except for self-defence, the KIA attacked the army outposts, destroyed roads and bridges, robbed and destroyed public property, recruited new members and kidnapped local people. Many officers and soldiers from the government army were killed and injured, the statement added.

The KIA blasted bombs on Mandalay-Myitkyina railroad 56 times, Myitkyina-Sunprabun-Putao road 15 times and Myitkyina-Banmaw road 42 times, killing and injuring civilians. Consequently, commodity prices are high and locals from Putao are facing food scarcity. The army had to airlift food there.

The statement said the government would take firm steps from ceasefires to political dialogue with all ethnic armed groups for the sake of national reconciliation and unity. It would also continue peace talks with the KIA, which calls for discussion with top decision makers.

The government is willing to work hand in hand with all national people, including the KIA, the statement said.

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