HPAKANT, BURMA — At least 6 Burmese soldiers were killed and as many as 15 injured Tuesday following two separate attacks by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the jade rich Hpakant region of western Kachin state, according to local KIA officials.
The first incident occurred about five miles from Lawng Hkang, according to KIA sources. The three dead and at least 7 wounded soldiers are believed to be from Light Infantry Battalion units No. 381, 382 and 390. The Burmese military's opponents were primarily from a local Kachin civilian defense unit called the People's Army, which fights alongside the KIA. None of the Kachin resistance members were injured, a KIA official claimed.
A few hours after the firefight the same Burmese units were hit by a remote detonated bomb planted by members of the KIA. The lethal explosion occurred as the government units traveled between Lay Pyin and Lawng Hkang villages on the road towards Hpakant town. The second attack killed at least 3 Burmese troops, according to the KIA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The same Burmese military column was hit again Wednesday morning when series of remote-controlled mines were detonated as the unit passed near Maw Wan village on the way to Hpakant town, according to the KIA official. It is unknown how many soldiers were killed in the latest attack though the KIA official said that the size of the blast meant that fatalities were very likely.
The Burmese units that suffered the attack on Tuesday are believed to have arrived in the Hpakant area recently from Mogaung and were sent to reinforce government position in the area. Over the past few weeks the army has deployed a large number of new troops to the Hpakant area to shore up its control of certain strategic locations including lucrative jade mines controlled by businessman with close to ties to the military.
Clashes on Monday in Hpakant claimed the lives of a Burmese sergeant and a fellow soldier, according to eyewitnesses who said the fighting took place near Mungga N’nan and Yung Tawng villages. At least four other soldiers are also said to have been injured in the clashes, an eyewitness told the Kachin News Group. Both of the dead men were buried near the battlefield as is common practice for the Burmese army.
The lethal clashes on Monday saw a Burmese military column with about 200 men face come under repeated attack from members of the local village militia loyal to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).