BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Thousands of refugees from Myanmar poured across the border into southern China at the end of the week to escape fighting there, a provincial official told CNN on Friday.
The exact nature of the conflict and when it started were not immediately clear, but people began crossing the border into Yunnan province Thursday morning, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Exile groups reported that factions of a rebel army in northeastern Myanmar were battling each other.
"First, we'd like to clarify that these people who crossed the borders are not called the refugees -- they are residents near the borders," a Yunnan government spokesman said.
"Due to the war in their country, they crossed the border into our province. At the moment, there are about 10,000 of them."
The number of people fleeing from Myanmar continued to increase Friday, sources with Yunnan's provincial foreign affairs office said, according to Xinhua. Watch a report on the flight of the refugees »
"At the moment, we do not know how long they are going to stay in our province, and we do not know how long we will keep them," the government spokesman told CNN. "But on humanitarian grounds, we will provide help and support to them properly."