Defence Minister says govt controls Laukkai


A rescue truck loaded with fleeing civilians passes military troops near the Kokang capital Laukkai, northern Shan State, Myanmar, February 17, 2015. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

A rescue truck loaded with fleeing civilians passes military troops near the Kokang capital Laukkai, northern Shan State, Myanmar, February 17, 2015. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Nay Pyi Taw - Defence Minister Lieutenant General Wai Lwin says the government now controls Laukkai and nearby areas where fighting broke out between the government troops and the Kokang armed group.

“The fighting began on February 9 with the fiercest fighting occurring at that time. Now we can control the area,” the defence minister told media on February 20.

The defence minister was speaking after a meeting at the Kempinski Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw during which the visiting Malaysian Defence Minister officially invited his Myanmar counterpart to attend the upcoming ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting to be held in Malaysia.

The Myanmar government has declared martial law in the Laukkai area after heavy fighting erupted between the Kokang armed group known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, led byPheung Kya-shin aka Phone Kyar Shin, and government forces.

The Defence Minister said, “[The army] will take the executive and judicial duties, but it will not have legislative power.”

This military administrative order will last for 90 days starting from the day it was issued by the President, he said

Fresh fighting broke out between the Kokang armed group andMyanmar government troops from 9:30 am to 6 pm on February 20, U Tun Myat Lin, the spokesman of the MNDAA, told Mizzima on February 20.

“The fighting was fierce. In the beginning, [government troops] fired heavy weapons,” he said.

On February 20, the US Embassy in Yangon issued a statement saying thatthe US condemned the attack on a Myanmar Red Cross Society convoy in northern Shan State on February 17, which injured two humanitarian workers.

According to a local Laukkai Township MP, more than 40,000 refugees from Kokang have set up makeshifttents and shelters on the Myanmar-Chinese border to escape the fighting.

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