A convoy transporting prisoners from Laogai [also written Laukkai] to Lashio in the Kokang Special Region was attacked on Monday, according to a state media report.
The convoy of trucks, carrying female inmates from Laogai prison, came under fire near Lonhtan village, between the towns of Pasingyaw and Chinshwehaw. The vehicles reportedly came under fire from small arms and heavy weapons. Forty-four prisoners were reported injured, as well as a prison officer and a member of the armed forces.
The report, which claims that Kokang rebels were responsible for the ambush, said that Burmese armed forces launched a counter-attack using military helicopters.
Also on Monday in Kokang, more clashes broke out to the southeast of Laogai near the China-Burma border. Three Burmese soldiers were killed and seven were injured, and the bodies of six Kokang fighters were found, state-run Myanma Ahlin said.
In separate incidents on 17 and 21 February, convoys flying the flag of the Society of the Red Cross – carrying displaced peoples, volunteers and journalists – came under attack leaving a number of people injured. The assailants of the attack can not be confirmed, with both government forces and rebel troops denying responsibility.
Fierce fighting has troubled the Kokang area since 9 February when violence erupted between the Burmese army and armed ethnic groups, headed by the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Association (MNDAA).
Of the attack on the Red Cross convoy on Saturday, the MNDAA said in a statement: “The attack reported by Burmese media on a second Red Cross convoy on 21 February had nothing to do with the MNDAA.
“The area where the Red Cross-flagged truck was attacked is under tight control of the Burmese army … The MNDAA does not even have forces in that area, nor does it attack civilian vehicles.”