Myanmar activists say thousands flee airstrikes, fighting

Myanmar activists say thousands flee airstrikes, fighting

YANGON, Myanmar — More than 3,000 people have fled airstrikes and heavy fighting in northern Myanmar since the weekend as the government tries to flush out rebel positions, activists said Wednesday.

The government prevented a U.N. official from visiting the area on Tuesday as waves of people crossed the border into China to escape the turmoil.

The unrest in Kachin state, where rebel groups have been seeking greater autonomy for decades, is just one of the simmering conflicts in Myanmar. The military is also under fire for alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

The government has denied the accusations.

Khon Ja, a Kachin activist, said the government is trying to wrest control of rebel outposts in the area using by launching airstrikes. Thousands of people fled across the border to China, she said.

Tang San, a rebel Kachin Independence Army battalion commander, also reported government airstrikes.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Yanghee Lee arrived in Myanmar on Sunday for a 12-day visit. But the government, citing safety concerns, denied her request to visit the town of Laiza in Kachin state, where there are camps for the internally displaced as well as the headquarters for the Kachin Independence Army

She is scheduled to visit Rakhine state on Friday, home to most of Myanmar’s estimated 1 million Rohingya who face discrimination in the overwhelmingly Buddhist country.

The Associated Press