Bangkok, Nov 20 (IANS/EFE) At least 22 guerrilla fighters from the militant wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) have died in a heavy artillery attack by the Myanmar army, media reported Thursday.
Another 15 Kachin guerrillas were injured when government troops opened fire late Wednesday on rebel strongholds in the city of Laiza in northeastern Myanmar, a Kachin commander told The Irrawady newspaper.
All the rebels were less than 30 years old, according to Kachin Independence Army spokesperson La Nan.
Myanmar began a process of reforms in 2011 with the dissolution of the military junta and the transfer of power to a civil government.
As a part of this process, the new government has signed peace treaties with 14 of the 16 major militant groups of ethnic minorities.
Around the end of September, a meeting between government representatives and the Kachin ethnic group ended without an agreement being reached and conflict resumed in the region.
According to UN data, about 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes due to clashes between the two sides since the ceasefire, which lasted 17 years, was revoked.
The KIO wants greater autonomy and respect for their ethnic rights.
Greater autonomy is the main demand of almost all of the country’s ethnic groups, which include the Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Mon, Chin, Kayah and Kachin minorities, and represent more than 30 percent of the 53 million inhabitants of Myanmar.