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Clashes continue in Myanmar's northernmost state
January 19,2015   By:Xinhua

YANGON, Jan.19, 2015 -- Sporadic armed clashes between the Myanmar government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continued in Phakant of the northernmost Kachin state Sunday, the fourth day since the clashes broke out on Thursday.

The battle began in the afternoon with about 600 government troops using heavy weapons in its attack on the KIA, according to the KIA side.

Some thousands of local residents were trapped in the Aungbarlay village, it said, adding that the three police officers taken away by KIA are not released yet due to continuous fighting.

According to state Radio and TV Sunday night, the KIA launched grenade and mine attacks targeting government outposts over the past two days with Phakant police station being destroyed.

Moreover, the KIA also burned and destroyed some three bridges on Moguang-Phakant road, cutting off the traffic.

The government has charged the KIA with undermining the peace and tranquillity of the region, saying that local people are worrying about the escalation of the clashes.

Heavy clashes erupted between the government troops and the KIA in Phakant on Thursday following a KIA ambush on a convoy of Kachin state Transport Minister U Kamann Du Naw on Wednesday on a highway.

Shooting in the air, a squad of the KIA armed group stopped the convoy while the minister was traveling on an inspection tour.

Although the minister was freed and allowed to continue his tour after questioning, three police officers, who escorted the minister, were abducted with arms and ammunition.

The regional authorities have been seeking negotiations with the KIA for the release of the abductees.

It was another major incident between the government and the KIA since November last year when the two sides witnessed clashes in Bhamo of the state.

The KIA claimed that a total of 23 trainees were killed and 20 others wounded in the government forces' artillery shelling on a KIA military training school near Laiza.

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