MUSE, Burma— A Burmese soldier died on Thursday morning following a battle between the Kachin Independence Army's (KIA) new battalion near Mong Mit in northern Shan State.
The soldier's body and his gun were retrieved by KIA troops following the end of a four hour firefight between government forces and KIA Battalion 34, according to local residents who witnessed the clash.
Reached for comment officials from the KIA's 4th Brigade confirmed the clash and the involvement of Battalion 34, which was formed early last month.
Yesterday also saw a similar skirmish break out between KIA Battalion 8 troops and government forces further south in the Namlet Bum area in Namtu Township, according to sources in the battalion. It is not yet clear if either side lost men during this fighting.
Despite a strong push by the Burmese army to remove Battalion 8 from Namtu, Kutkai, Mandong, Namhkam and Muse townships the KIA has been able to regain some lost territory recently, according to a Battalion 8 officer on the ground in the area.
The Shwe gas project's twin oil and gas pipelines are slated to be built in a lengthy stretch of Kachin Independence Organization territory in northern Shan state from Namtu to Muse. When completed the pipeline project will deliver fuel from Burma's Arakan coast to China’s Yunnan province and provide millions in revenue for Burma's government.
Although representatives of President Thein Sein had previously agreed to meet with their counterparts from the KIO for talks this week, this meeting is yet occur due to an apparent dispute over location. According to the KIO, the Burmese delegation refuses to meet again in China, site of two previous rounds of talks.