A Burmese government soldier died Sunday evening in Kachin's state Manmaw (Bhamo) district after a suspected Kachin Independence Army land mine exploded. The soldier was killed while traveling along a road in Kai Htik-Manje, according to local eyewitnesses. The soldier's battalion is not known.
KIA officials on the front lines tell the Kachin News Group that early last week two Burmese army columns with over 200 troops arrived in Manje, also known as Mansi township, The area is partially controlled by three units under the KIA's 3rd Brigade, battalions 1, 12 and 27. Last November KIA outposts belonging to battalions 12 and 27 were overrun by the Burmese army.
Following peace talks between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Burmese Army held earlier this month there has been a lull in fighting in Kachin state. The Burmese army however has continued to attack KIA positions in Northern Shan state in an area currently controlled by the KIA's Battalion 8. This territory is of strategic and economic value to Burma's central government as it includes a stretch of land that will be used for the Shwe gas project, twin oil and gas pipelines that will send fuel from the Arakan coast to China.
The Kachin Independence Organization is Burma's largest armed ethnic group yet to sign a ceasefire with the central government. The New Mon State Party (NMSP), a much smaller group based along the Thai Burma border also hasn't reached a ceasefire agreement and instead has publicly supported the Kachin resistance.
"We have no plan to accept a ceasefire deal if they (the Burmese government) continue to wage a military offensive in Kachin State,” NMSP secretary Nai Han Thar told the Irrawaddy magazine on January 12.