March 6 (UPI) -- About 30 people died Monday in clashes between ethnic rebels and Myanmar security in an area along the border with China, the government said.
Authorities said five civilians, five police officers and at least 20 rebel fighters died in the town of Laukkai, in the Kokang region.
The rebel group, Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army, is fighting Myanmar's armed forces in the region.
"According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher ... were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group," the office of Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a statement.
The Northern Alliance, a multi-faction rebel group that includes the MNDAA, said the attack was carried out in "self-defense" of the Myanmar military's operation since December.
The Kokang region's people speak a Chinese dialect and use the yuan as currency.
In 2015, tens of thousands fled across the border into China after clashes between rebels and the government.