YANGON _ Fighting between ethnic Kachin rebels and the Myanmar army has intensified, causing increased hardship and fear at camps set up to shelter civilians fleeing the fighting, reports said Sunday.
The Myanmar Times quoted rebel sources saying that clashes occurred south of the Kachin Independence Army's stronghold at Laiza, and near the town of Pangwa in the northern Kachin state near the China-Burma border.
"Day by day the fighting is continuing," said U Myint Thane, joint general secretary of the National Council of the Union of Burma, based in Thailand. "It has disappointed all of us."
Fighting in the Kachin state has frustrated efforts by the reform government of President Thein Sein to end the ethnic strife that has plagued the country since independence from Britain in 1948.
Kachin rebel leaders have blamed hardline officers of the army for mounting new offensives in the state.
"We've had reports that there are over 400 (Myanmar army) troops near Laiza and more than 500 near Pangwa," Myin Thane said.
Fighting has occurred every day since Dec 13, with the military deploying helicopter gunships and heavy artillery against the Kachin rebels, according to rebel sources.
The paper quoted an official of the aid group Kachin Baptist Convention as saying he was concerned that refugees in camps near Pangwa would have to leave if the fighting got any closer.
"The people are afraid because the fighting is happening near their camps," he said.