Thousands flee Burma as army clashes with Kokang militias

Thousands of people have fled from northern Burma into China after fighting erupted between government troops and an armed ethnic group yesterday, breaking a 20-year ceasefire.

The government signed a ceasefire with ethnic groups in the Shan state in 1989, allowing them to hold on to their arms. Several fused their political aims with vast drug operations and have grown increasingly powerful, enjoying considerable autonomy. But the Burmese army has gradually increased its presence and the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the official name of the ruling military junta, recently began pressing the militias to be incorporated into an official border force.

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