The Myanmar government and Kokang rebels are trading accusations over the February 17 attack on a Red Cross convoy, one day after the government declared a state of emergency in the northern region, according to Voice of America on February 18.
The Myanmar government on February 18 accused Kokang rebels of the attack. But the rebels, who call themselves the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, have shot back with a denial.
The seven-car convoy carrying 100 civilians was under a Red Cross flag when it was attacked about 50 kilometers south of Laukkai. Two Red Cross volunteers were injured.
“The Burmese army has controlled the area of Laukkai and Chin Shwe Haw," said MNDAA spokesperson Tun Myat Lin. "We couldn’t reach the area and so it was impossible for our troops to make this attack against the Red Cross convoy. I deny the report. MNDAA have strictly ordered its troops only to attack military targets, not civilians.”
Questions have arisen amongst the media and analysts over which armed groups are part of the rebel alliance and what role China has played in this conflict close to the Myanmar-China border.
According to media reports, the MNDAA, made up largely of Kokang fighters, has fighters from the Arakan Army, Kachin Independence Army, Ta-ang National Liberation Army and the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army fighting alongside. However, the United Wa State Army and the Mongla-based National Democratic Allaince Army-Eastern Shan State have denied involvement.
Meanwhile, the Kokang Democratic Party has called on behalf of the displaced residents for a ceasefire, stressing it would be for the good of the country, according to the Shan Herald Agency for News.