Peace marchers arrive in rebel stronghold

Peace marchers arrive in rebel stronghold

A group of activists, who set off on a peace march from central Burma weeks ago, arrived at the former headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Laiza on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 50 activists from Mandalay division’s Myingyan township were greeted by hundreds of local residents.

Earlier in the week, the Burmese army briefly stopped the marchers and warned them against proceeding towards Laiza due to the presence of landmines.

According to one of the activists, Ngwe Htway, the group has not decided what they will do next.

The activists initially planned to meet up with a larger group that was marching up from Rangoon, but ended up taking a different route following disagreements.

The group from Rangoon arrived in Kachin state’s capital Myitkyina on Tuesday.

Recently, Laiza has witnessed some of the most intense fighting between the KIA and government troops, since a 17-year ceasefire broke down in June 2011.

Beginning in mid-December, the military launched a massive dry-season offensive against the rebels, which eventually lead to the capture of several hilltop bases surrounding the stronghold.

Since the fall of the KIA’s final base on the outskirts of Laiza, the KIA and government negotiators have sat down for two rounds of talks in Ruili, China.

However no official ceasefire has been inked as the KIA continues to push for a political solution to the war before agreeing to another truce.

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