According to the rights group, the recentMyanmar army shelling in Laogai, killing two children and injuring another, as well as an alleged brutal assault of an 80-year-old woman in a village south of Laogai, highlight the urgent need for protection of civilians in the Kokang area.
The NGO says the messages have been mixed on safety for civilians.
On March 3, refugees sheltering at the exhibition hall at Border Post 125 in China near Nansan, opposite Laogai, were moved by Chinese authorities back to the displaced people’s camp on the Kokang side of the border. On March 7, Myanmar military authorities came to this camp, distributed some food, and assured the IDPs that the security situation in Laogai was stable and it was safe to return home. This led some of the displaced civilians to return, the NGO says.
On March 10, fighting broke out at Nan Ting Men mountain, about two kilometres from Laogai, and the Myanmar army began firing mortar shells. At 10 am, one of the shells landed in Jin Shan Cheng quarter of Laogai, in the yard of a family who had returned from the border on March 8. Three young children were playing in the yard. The explosion killed two boys, aged 8 and 11, and seriously injured a 6-year-old girl. The parents, who were inside their house when the explosion happened, brought the girl to the Chinese side of the border for emergency hospital treatment. She is still in a critical condition.
The NGO reports that on March 10, an 80-year-old woman who had arrived at Border Post 137, south of Nansan, was admitted to hospital in China for injuries allegedly inflicted by Myanmar government troops.
According to the report, she had been staying alone in her house since the outbreak of fighting in February. On March 8 at 6 pm, six Myanmar soldiers allegedly broke into her house, and started ransacking her possessions.
She tried to run out of the house, but was assaulted by the soldiers. She suffered knife wounds in her back and hand, and was also hit with rifle butts. She stayed the night in the jungle, where she was found the next day by a neighbour, who took her to the Chinese border by motorcycle.
The NGO expressed dismay over what it claimed was Myanmar army abuse against civilians, and demanded that the Myanmar military authorities immediately stop pressuring displaced villagers to return home while their troops are continuing to commit such crimes with impunity.