About 2,000 civilians including several hundred Chinese have been trapped in the warring area in Myanmar's state of Kachin, where fierce fighting broke out between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Global Times reported Sunday.
The displaced, including children, sought refuge in Buddhist monasteries and Christian churches, said Gam Aung, a resident in Lone Khin, a town within earshot of the gunbattles in the northern state, according to an Associated Press report.
The area is short of medicine and food supplies are low, Global Times reported.
Heavily armed government soldiers have so far blocked efforts to ferry them to safety, said Dawng Hka, a spokesman for the ethnic KIA, Heavily armed government soldiers have blocked efforts to ferry them to safety, said Dawng Hka, a spokesman for the ethnic KIA, according to the Associated Press.
The commander in chief of KIA told Global Times that KIA would guarantee the safe withdrawal of Chinese civilians from the warring area.
The latest round of violence broke out Thursday after KIA members briefly took hostage a state transport minister who was traveling through the region in a convoy, the government-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
He has since been released, but three police officers accompanying him remained in KIA hands.
The hostage incident was another incident that took place between the government and the KIA since November last year when the two sides witnessed several clashes in some areas of Bhamo of the state.
The KIA claimed a total of 23 trainees were killed and 20 others injured in the government forces' artillery attack on a KIA military training school near Laiza.
In May last year, Myanmar government and KIA formed a conflict mediation team in Myitgyina as part of the first phase of implementing a joint monitoring mechanism following bilateral peace talks between the two sides.
The armies of the two sides had also clashed in three areas of Kachin state in early April last year.