Myanmar extends martial law in area near China border

Reuters News
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Posted: May 15, 2015 10:18 AM

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's parliament has extended martial law for three months in a region along its border with China as clashes between government troops and a rebel group continue.

Cross-border fire during the fighting has strained ties between Myanmar and China.

The conflict has also been a setback for Myanmar's semi-civilian government, which took power in 2011 after 49 years of military rule and is seeking to end hostilities with the many groups that have taken up arms since independence in 1948.

President Thein Sein declared a three-month state of emergency and imposed martial law in the region on Feb. 17 after fighting broke out between the Myanmar military and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

The country's parliament voted on Friday to extend the martial law, Win Oo, a parliamentarian with the governing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) told Reuters on Friday.

Martial law gives the military sweeping judicial and administrative powers.

The U.N. has estimated 60,000 people had crossed the border into China due to the clashes, though some started returning last month.

China was infuriated in March when five people were killed by stray bombs falling into the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. Five people in Yunnan were injured on Thursday by more stray shells, Chinese state media reported.

China has repeatedly demand that Myanmar take greater steps to prevent fighting from spilling over to its side of the border. Myanmar government soldiers have been battling rebels who were dug in as close as 500 meters (1,640 ft) from the border area, Myanmar's Information Ministry said in April.

(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin and Hnin Yadana Zaw; Editing by Simon Webb and Crispian Balmer)