At least 3,000 people have fled fighting in northern Myanmar into China, Beijing said Tuesday, as the death toll from clashes between the military and ethnic rebels rose to nine.
The violence is a fresh blow to de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's hopes of forging a nationwide peace agreement after decades of bloody insurgencies in Myanmar's borderlands.
Heavy fighting near the Chinese border in northern Shan state between the army and four armed ethnic groups, including the powerful Kachin Independence Army, has sent locals pouring across the border.
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Chinese state media said its military had been placed on high alert after one of its nationals was injured by a stray shell from across the border.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said thousands had already crossed into China.
"About 3,000 Myanmar border citizens have entered China to avoid warfare," he told reporters.
"Out of humanitarian considerations, the Chinese local governments offered them proper settlement and brought the injured to hospital for treatment."
Aung San Suu Kyi's office said one person had been killed near the border town of Muse, on top of the eight reported dead and 29 injured on Sunday.
"People dare not go outside," town resident Aye Aye told AFP.[caption id="attachment_35589" align="aligncenter" width="800"] In this handout photograph released by the Myanmar State Counsellor Office on November 22, 2016, Myanmar volunteer aid worker Ye Min Aung recovers with a gunshot wounds at a hospital in Muse, located in Shan State on November 21, 2016 AFP[/caption]
"We are frightened. We are thinking of going to China if the situation gets worse."
Suu Kyi has made dealing with the simmering unrest in Myanmar's border regions a priority of her government since it took power seven months ago.
But fighting in northern Kachin and Shan states, and in the south in Karen, have cast a pall over her efforts and any ceasefire is expected to take years.
More than 30,000 people have been displaced and at least 70 killed under a military lockdown in the north of western Rakhine state, an area home to the Muslim Rohingya minority.