Raging battles on Myanmar's border with China have claimed dozens more lives, military and official sources said Wednesday, as the mounting death toll landed a fresh blow to the government's faltering peace process.
Fighting broke out between troops and ethnic minority rebels in the Chinese-speaking Kokang border region in northeastern Shan State this month when insurgents dressed in police uniforms launched a surprise raid on security forces.
Thousands of people have since fled to China to escape the ensuing gun battles, artillery strikes and fires, leaving Laukkai deserted.
Military sources said 28 civilians and police have been killed, while the commander in chief's office has reported at least 46 insurgents have also died.
Troops "found the bodies of 17 enemies and seized 27 weapons" between March 6-14, it said in a statement.
Three more rebels were killed on Wednesday during an army offensive in which "some military officers and other (lower) rank soldiers were killed and injured," it added.
A military source who asked not to be named said the figures were in addition to 26 rebels the government said had been killed in a statement on March 6.
State media reported on Tuesday that "dozens of soldiers" had also been killed in the escalating clashes.
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