More than 3,000 people are reported to have fled Myanmar to seek temporary shelter in China following intense clashes between government forces and rebels along the border towns of Muse and Kutkai in Myanmar's northeastern Shan state.

Chinese state media reports say the communist country has also taken injured people into its country for medical treatment.

"The Chinese authority has responded swiftly and handled the situation appropriately," China Daily quoted Pan Xuesong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Myanmar, as saying.

Although no deaths were reported on the Chinese side, stray shells are reported to have fallen into China's Wanding province, which is an important border crossing, causing minor damages.

Reuters reported that a Chinese government building in Wanding had been slightly damaged. The country's Foreign Ministry said on Monday (21 November) that at least one Chinese resident had also been injured.

The ministry added that Beijing has been closely monitoring the situation along the Myanmar-China border and called for all sides in the fighting to exercise restraint.

China, which had been alarmed by the clashes, has put its army on high alert and also cautioned its citizens living in Myanmar to avoid going to conflict-hit areas. It said President Xi Jingpin's government would take necessary measures to safeguard the country's sovereignty and safety.

Intense fighting broke out in the early hours of Sunday (20 November) when four ethnic groups of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, launched a series of attacks on military outposts and police stations across Shan state.

The attack is said to have caused a huge blow to leader Aung San Suu Kyi's chief goal of reaching a peace deal with ethnic minorities in the country. Three out of the four ethnic militant groups, who were involved in the fighting, were reported to have not joined a ceasefire accord that was signed between Myanmar's government and eight rebel groups in the country in October 2015.

Suu Kyi's party came to power in last year's election on promises made by them to bring national reconciliation.

Myanmar is already grappling with an ethnic conflict in northwestern Rakhine state, where hundreds of Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee to Bangladesh.

Myanmar rebels
Three out of the four ethnic rebel groups, who were involved in the fighting, were reported to have not joined a ceasefire accord signed between Myanmar’s government and eight rebel groups in Myanamr in October 2015 ~ file photo REUTERS/Stringer