YANGON, MYANMAR (TIP): Kokang ethnic rebels battling Myanmar forces in the country’s north denied several government accusations on february 23, including that they attacked a Red Cross-flagged truck that was carrying refugees fleeing fighting in the area. Kokang spokesman Htun Myat Lin said the report by state media of Saturday’s attack was not true, and that his group did not even have forces in the area of the alleged ambush.
The state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported that the rebels used heavy weapons to attack a truck carrying 15 refugees, wounding five people, including a TV cameraman from state-run Myanma Radio and Television and a Myanmar Red Cross volunteer. The two sides traded similar accusations about an attack Tuesday on a seven-car Myanmar Red Cross convoy carrying 100 people that wounded a driver and another volunteer. The Kokang special region, which lies near the border with China, is difficult to access, and verifying claims by either side is difficult. “This is the second time the government has spread this kind of propaganda,” Htun Myat Lin said by phone. He also denied accusations made to reporters Saturday by a senior Myanmar military official that other ethnic rebel groups were joining the Kokang in combat against the government.