Three soldiers from Burma's military died on Monday following bloody clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the Mongkoe (or Munggu) area of northern Shan state, according to local residents.
Eyewitnesses told the Kachin News Group they saw the bodies of the three soldiers identified as members of Infantry Battalion No. 69 being carried away by their comrades near Nawng Heng, the site of heavy fighting all day Monday.
The fighting involved 100 government troops and a far smaller squad of KIA forces from the group's Brigade 4 (also known as the KIA Southern Region), said a KIA officer stationed in the area.
Three young Kachin men were arrested on Monday close to where the fighting was taking place, apparently under suspicion of being KIA members. The men were seen being taken into custody by troops from IB No. 69. Their current whereabouts remain unknown.
According to villagers living in the Mongkoe area troops from IB No. 69 have punished Kachin local Kachin villagers by looting many homes and stealing livestock and property.
Although fighting in Kachin state has drawn far more attention, regularly clashes have been taking place in north western Shan state since the Kachin conflict began last year. A significant portion of Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) territory in northern Shan state is slated to be the route for a twin oil and gas pipeline project currently being constructed by a Chinese state owned firm, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
When the Shwe pipeline project is completed it will send gas and oil from the Arakan coast to China's Yunnan province. The project appears to have been significantly delayed by the army's offensive against the KIO which began in June of last year.