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Myanmar's Kachin rebels report loss of key outpost protecting headquarters

Ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Myanmar say a massive government attack has ousted them from a key outpost that was one of the last lines of defense for their nearby headquarters.

A spokesman for the Kachin Independence Army says the outpost at Hka Ya Bhum was overrun Saturday afternoon by about 3,000 government troops backed by air and artillery attacks.

The spokesman, who asked to be identified only as Joseph, says attacks on the hilltop post began last week despite a cease-fire unilaterally declared by the government, and that fighting is continuing Sunday. He believes the government wants to occupy the Kachin headquarters at Laiza near the Chinese border, despite its denials.

The Kachin have long sought greater autonomy from the central government.