President orders extension to Kokang martial law

YANGON — The President’s Office has extended for a third time a state of emergency in Shan State’s Kokang region, state-controlled media reported on August 19.

The 90-day extension of the state of emergency, until November 17, was because the region was yet to return to normal, said an order issued by the President’s Office, which also extended martial law over the Kokang self-administered zone, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The state of emergency in the region on the border with China was initially declared on February 17 amid fierce fighting between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Tatmadaw.

The fighting erupted on February 9 when the Kokang rebel group launched an assault on the Chinese-speaking region’s main city, Laukkai, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes.

The assault came during a bid by the MNDAA to regain control of the region, which it had administered under a ceasefire agreement with the government. The truce collapsed in 2009 after the MNDAA resisted pressure to transform itself into a border guard force under Tatmadaw command.

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There have been scores of military and civilian casualties as a result of the fighting, which has included the use of heavy artillery and air strikes.

Beijing lodged a diplomatic protest with Myanmar in March after bombs dropped by a Tatmadaw warplane killed four farmers on the Chinese side of the border.

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