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Myanmar refugees fearful after fighting escalates

January 05, 2013

LAIZA (Myanmar): Ethnic Kachins living in makeshift camps in Myanmar described their terror at the army’s use of air power during fighting with Kachin rebels seeking more autonomy, as the government said on Friday that it has exercised maximum restraint.

The escalation of attacks has made the lives of a claimed 100,000 Kachin displaced since fighting began more than 19 months ago even more perilous. Many are in camps in or near Laiza, the Kachin guerrilla-held town right by the border with China.

“We are really afraid and can’t sleep well at nights,” said Dashi Lu, 60, from Daw Hpun Yang village, about a day's walk from the Laiza camp where she has lived for a year.

“If I were small enough, I would hide under a leaf,” she said.

The government said in a statement that the army had been given orders to cease all offensives against Kachin Independence Army guerrillas, but it had to protect its soldiers after the Kachin continued to set off land mines and ambush government forces.—AP