Burma army kills unarmed Kachin woman

hpakant jade kioAn unarmed Kachin woman was shot and killed by Burmese government soldiers in the Hpakan (or Hpakant) area of war torn Kachin state this morning, the Kachin News Group has learned.

According to eyewitnesses, 21-year old Langwi Ying Wang and 29-year old Gawlu Seng Hkawn were shot while they were walking to market near Nam Ya village at about 9 AM.

Villagers who witnessed the shooting of the women said both were unarmed but were shot anyway after they tried to run away from an approaching Burmese army column.

Although the women received some medical attention at a nearby clinic, Ying Wang died from her injuries, local villagers reported.

It is not known which battalion the soldiers who shot the women belonged to. The women's village and its surrounding area have been occupied by soldiers from Infantry Battalion No. 58 based in Waingmaw, IB No. 298, Light Infantry Battalion No. 384 based in Kawa Yang, LIB No. 385 and 386 based in Nam-mam, LIB No. 521 based in Pinbaw-based and from Light Infantry Division No. 88 based in Magway.

The unarmed Kachin woman was killed a day after a group of approximately 200 government troops invaded nearby Lawng Hkang. Fighting in the area along the Hpakant road has been fierce over the past week. Citing safety concerns, the Kachin Independence Army beginning January 4 banned all civilian travel along the Hpakant road, an important transport route for the area's jade production.

Army atrocities affecting many civilians in Kachin and Shan state
The army's offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization began last June after Burma's new nominally civilian government opted to unilaterally end a 17 year long ceasefire with the KIO. Since the beginning of the central government's offenisve against the KIO there have been numerous well documented cases of war crimes committed by the Burman dominated armed forces in both Kachin and northern Shan state.

Founded in Shan state in 1960, the KIO has significant territory in both the northern part of Burma's largest state and in neighboring Kachin state. Fighting between the KIO and the Burmese army has been particularly fierce in a section of Shan state slated to be the route of the Shwe pipeline project.

Respected international NGO's Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights have both recently issued detailed reports accusing the army of killing many Kachin civilians during its ongoing campaign against the KIO. While many of the victims of the army's anti-KIO campaign have have been civilians from the Christian majority Kachin population, the army also stands accused of committing war crimes against civilians from the mostly Buddhist ethnic Shan population.

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