Thousands flee shelling of Burmese rebels

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The Independent Online

Burmese troops have attacked a powerful northern militia with artillery and are trying to force rebel fighters from a strategic region where China is building large hydro-electric power plants, exile groups said yesterday.

The fighting has killed at least four people and forced 2,000 to flee since it started last week, according to the US Campaign for Burma. The violence is some of the most serious in Burma since its military junta handed power in March to a civilian government that critics say is a proxy for continued military rule. The clashes underscore the deep tensions between the government and the Kachin, the ethnic minority to which the rebels involved in the most recent clashes belong. Their decades of struggle for more autonomy have routinely been met by military suppression.