Myanmar's President declares state of emergency as violence surges

Ethnic Kokang soldiers stand guard in the Myanmar-China border town of Laukkai in 2009.

Story highlights

  • Myanmar's President declares marshal law in Kokang region, where violence has surged
  • Last week state media reported dozens of soldiers died there in days of clashes with rebels

(CNN)Myanmar President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency Tuesday in the country's Kokang region, where clashes have erupted between rebels and government soldiers.

Thein Sein made the announcement on state television, saying that martial law would be imposed in the Kokang self-administered region for three months, effective immediately.
      Kokang forces lost fighters and territory during offensives by the Myanmar military in 2009, but have regrouped since. They are among multiple minority ethnic groups in Myanmar seeking greater autonomy. The rebels haven't agreed to sign a nationwide peace agreement the government has pursued with armed ethnic groups.
      According to Thein Sein's order, the commander in chief of Myanmar's military is now in charge of the region's "administrative rights and responsibility, community peace and tranquility, rule of law and judiciary matters."