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Myanmar: cease-fire with Kachin rebels announced

The Myanmar government has announced a unilateral cease-fire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the area around the town of Lajayang.

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Kachin Independence Army soldiers in Kachin state, Myanmar. (Will Baxter/GlobalPost)

The Myanmar government has announced a unilateral cease-fire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the area around the town of Lajayang, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Kachin rebels have attacked government forces in the region and blocked and mined roads and rail lines, Xinhua reported.

The military has responded by stepping up shelling of the rebel base of Laiza since the end of December, The New York Times reported.

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Xinhua said the government announced the cease-fire would begin at 6 a.m. on Jan. 19.

It’s unclear whether the military, which is not required to follow orders from the president, will stop fighting, The New York Times said.

“According to our experience, the declarations by the government are one thing. What the army does is another,” Rev. Samson Hkalam, the general secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention, told The New York Times.

Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said the cease-fire would hold only if Kachin rebels instructed their troops to stop their attacks, the Associated Press reported. He said that the military had clashed with the KIA 1,095 times since Dec. 2011.

The Kachin rebels want greater independence from the Myanmar government, the AP reported. Myanmar is also known as Burma.

According to the AP:

A cease-fire that held for nearly two decades broke down in June 2011 after the Kachin refused to abandon a strategic base near a hydropower plant that is a joint venture with a Chinese company.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/myanmar/130118/myanmar-cease-fire-kachin-rebels-announced