Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Seven Burmese soldiers were killed and at least 20 injured in an attack by the rebels in the north-east of the country, close to the border with China; according to State media reports the violence dates back to December 10 last year, but the news has emerged only recent hours. The military accuses the insurgents of ambushing an army patrol and laying siege to a base near Kunlong, a town in Shan State, some 30 km from the border with China. Questioned on the matter, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, Qin Gang, said " he did not to know details about the killings", nor could he confirm the reports.
The pro-government newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar reported that "the remnant Kikang insurgent group launced unprovoked attacks on Tatmadaw (Burmese army) camps and columns, while the government is implementing the peace process."
The last round of meetings between the semi-Civil government executive - that in 2011 replaced the military junta that had been in power for decades in the former Burma - and rebel groups, took place on 27 September and ended in stalemate.
Most of the local movements are fighting for greater autonomy within a federal system that guarantees the unity of the country; however, the military continues to consider as fundamental the presence of a strong central government, as required by the (military) Constitution which was approved in 2008 during the state of emergency caused by Cyclone Nargis.
The rebels in Kokang, better known as Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (Mndaa), were members of the Communist Party of Burma and have long enjoyed the support of China, until their break-up in 1989. The group then signed a peace agreement with Naypyidaw, although over the years there have been sporadic clashes and tensions; the last in 2009 which caused the exodus of tens of thousands of refugees across the south-west China border, in search of shelter and safety.
Myanmar is made up of over 135 ethnic groups, who have always struggled to cohabitate peacefully, especially with the central government with its Burmese majority. In the past, the military junta has used the iron fist against the most rebellious ethnic groups, including the Shan and Kachin in their territories of the same names located in the north of the country, along the border with China. After 17 years of relative calm the war flared up in June 2011, causing dozens of civilian deaths and at least 200 thousand displaced people.