YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Myanmar say the government is keeping up air and ground attacks against them despite international calls for restraint.
La Nan, a spokesman for the Kachin Independence Army, says government troops attacked guerrilla hilltop outposts Monday morning and used fighter planes and helicopters in aerial attacks in the afternoon.
No comment was immediately available from the government.
The Kachin, like Myanmar's other ethnic minorities, have long sought greater autonomy from the central government. They are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not reached a truce with President Thein Sein's elected government, which came to power in 2011 after almost five decades of military rule.
Intermittent fighting escalated last month when the rebels rejected a government demand that they allow supply convoys to reach an army base. The Kachin headquarters at Laiza near the border with China and a government base are close to each other, and access to both is by the same road.
The Kachin stage attacks on government convoys trying to get through to the base, saying the supplies include ammunition that could be used to try to take their headquarters.
The army claims its actions are in self-defense, a response to the Kachin blocking the road.
"Launching attacks against important KIA hill posts and occupying these outposts amounts to launching attacks against Laiza," La Nan said Monday.
The government has said several times it has no intention of trying to seize Laiza.
The U.S. and China are among those parties urging an end to the fighting.
"Our view is that all sides need to cease and desist and get into dialogue with each other," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week.