Myanmar chief of general staff Mya Tun Oo on Tuesday said at least 160 people were killed in the conflict between the armed forces and ethnic armed groups in Shan during the last three months, AFP reported. The official said the development, near the border with China, could hinder peace talks with the ethnic groups scheduled for March.
The chief of general staff said 74 soldiers, 15 police personnel, 13 government militia fighters and 13 civilians have died in the violence. The clashes have led to the displacement of over 20,000 people.
Speaking to reporters in Naypyidaw, the official said based on images of a mass funeral, several more rebels may have been killed. The announcement precedes the second phase of peace discussions aimed at ending violence in the nation’s border region. Eight armed ethnic groups had sent a joint statement vowing to decline the government-backed peace treaty, known as the NCA.
The United Nations had said the Army may have killed and raped hundreds of people including children in its crackdown against the Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has also been criticised for not doing enough to resolve the Rohingya crisis.