Burmese troops take key rebel outpost

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A KEY outpost protecting the headquarters of ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Burma has fallen to government troops, a spokesman for the guerrilla group said.

The Kachin Independence Army spokesman said the hillside outpost at Hka Ya Bhum, near the group’s headquarters in the town of Laiza, was overrun on Saturday afternoon.

“The army stormed the post using about 3,000 soldiers and air and artillery assaults,” said the spokesman, who asked to be identified only as Joseph.

He said in a telephone interview that heavy attacks on the post began last week, despite a cease-fire unilaterally declared by the government. Over the past few weeks, the government has pushed toward Laiza, although it insists it has no intention of taking the town.

“The government did not live up to their own promises and they continue their attacks even today. I think their target is to totally occupy our Laiza headquarters,” he said. No casualty figures were available, he said. The Kachin are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not agreed a truce with the government.