Asia

Deadly Myanmar shell 'mistakenly hit' Kachin rebels

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Media captionThe BBC's Jonah Fisher: "The attack came after several days of skirmishes"

The Myanmar army has denied it deliberately targeted a Kachin rebel camp in a mortar attack that killed 23 people.

The shell had been intended as a warning shot and was not aimed directly at the rebels, Kachin State's security minister, Col Than Aung, said.

The rebels have threatened to abandon ceasefire talks because of the attack.

Myanmar's government has been in peace negotiations with the Kachin and other ethnic rebel groups.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Yangon says the government will hope its statement will be enough to persuade the rebels to show up at the next round of talks in December.

The attack took place on Wednesday, in the rebel stronghold of Laiza, bordering China.

A spokesman for the Kachin Independence Army told AP news agency that government troops fired from a nearby hilltop while the rebels were conducting military training.

He claimed at least 15 rebels were wounded and at least one Kachin villager was killed.

A 17-year truce with the government was broken in 2011. Sporadic fighting has taken place since then, despite talks aimed at restoring a ceasefire.

The Kachin rebels are among the last few ethnic insurgent groups still fighting the government, which has agreed to tentative peace deals with 14 other groups.

In May 2013, the Kachin rebels and the government reached a seven-point deal working towards a ceasefire and redeploying armed forces on both sides.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the violence so far.

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