Helicopter gunships hover in the sky above a battlefield. The constant sound of explosions and gunfire pierce the night for an estimated 100,000 refugees and internally displaced people. Military hospitals are full of wounded government soldiers, while bridges, communication lines and other crucial infrastructure lie in war-torn ruins.
The images and sounds on the ground in Myanmar's northern Kachin State shatter the impression of peace, reconciliation and a steady march towards democracy that President Thein Sein's government has bid to convey to the outside world. In reality, the situation in this remote corner of one of Asia's historically most troubled nations is depressingly normal.