At least 44 prisoners and one member of the military were injured, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar, in the latest attack on civilians during more than two weeks of fierce clashes that have forced tens of thousands to flee.
The report blamed Kokang insurgents for the attack in Shan state, adding that they withdrew after troops and aircraft returned fire. The rebels had not responded to the allegations Tuesday.
Two Red Cross convoys carrying civilians fleeing the violence have also come under attack in the last week, injuring a total of seven people. The government and Kokang rebels from the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have traded accusations over those attacks.
President Thein Sein placed Kokang – a self-administered region -- under martial law last week, declaring a state of emergency.
More than 130 troops from both sides have been killed in the fighting since Feb. 9.
Chinese state media has reported that at least 30,000 people have fled across the border to Yunnan province, while tens of thousands more are believed to have fled to other parts of Myanmar.
Myanmar’s intelligence chief said Sunday the MNDAA had drafted in Chinese mercenaries, telling a press conference in the Myanmar capital of Naypyitaw that troops had captured eight Chinese fighters.
“After questioning them, we can conclude that they use former Chinese soldiers recruited as mercenaries," he said.
The Kokang are ethnically Chinese and the MNDAA was formed out of the China-backed Communist Party of Burma, which disbanded in the late 1980s.
Before the recent fighting broke, the region had experienced relative stability for years.
Over the weekend, government troops captured key Kokang positions, according to state media. Tuesday’s New Light report also claimed that “stability has been restored” in Laukkai, the Kokang capital.
The town has been almost deserted since the fighting began, with rebels accusing government troops of killing dozens of civilians – claims denied by the army.
Troops in Laukkai “combed the area for insurgents” before 796 people returned to the town by Feb. 22, the report said.