Burma admits military airstrikes on Kachin rebels

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Media captionThe BBC's Jonah Fisher on the video, shot by aid group Free Burma Rangers

The Burmese government has acknowledged that the military carried out air attacks against rebel fighters in the northern state of Kachin.

The Information Ministry said on Wednesday that the attacks were aimed at rebels who tried to block military supply routes.

Video obtained by the BBC from an aid group shows military aircraft flying close to the trenches of the rebels.

Fighting with the Kachin rebels resumed in 2011, after a 17-year truce.

The footage, shot by the humanitarian group Free Burma Rangers, shows attack helicopters firing on the ground and jets flying close to the area of the rebel Kachin Independence Army.

The attacks have been going on for the past five days, according to reports.

The director of the president's office, Zaw Htay, had earlier said they had not been informed of any air attacks and that the military had told them they were only using planes to re-supply its troops.

The UN and the US have expressed concern over the air strikes.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, through his spokesman on Wednesday, called on Burmese officials to "desist from any action that could endanger the lives of civilians living in the area or further intensify the conflict in the region".

"We note that the government did today admit that they have been using aerial weapons in Kachin state," US State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said on Wednesday.

"We're obviously deeply troubled by the increased violence," she said, adding that the Burmese government and the rebels should "get to a real dialogue to address grievances".

An estimated 75,000 people have been displaced by fighting in resource-rich Kachin since the conflict re-started in 2011 after the end of a 17-year-old ceasefire between the rebels and the Burmese military.

Despite appeals from the international aid community, the Burmese government has allowed only a handful of convoys to deliver supplies to those sheltering in rebel areas.

Burma has seen a series of dramatic reforms since the nominally civilian government under Thein Sein came to power last year.

But rights groups have also urged caution, pointing to violent unrest through 2012 in parts of the country like western Rakhine state, which has displaced more than 100,000 people.

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