HPAKANT, BURMA — Army shelling in the Hpakant jade mining district of western Kachin state killed three Kachin civilians Wednesday evening, according to local residents.
The deaths occurred after Burmese forces fired a series of 81 mm mortar rounds at Maw Mau Bum, a Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) controlled village located about 3 miles west of Hpakant (or Hpakan, Phakant). Fatally wounded by the shelling were Kala Tu Awng 31, Magawng Naw San 30 and Gumraw Tang Gun 33, a relative of one of the deceased told the Kachin News Group.
Two KIO officers stationed in the village were also killed by the shelling. In addition to the deaths three other villagers were injured including a 17 year old boy. The injured villagers have been sent to a nearby hospital.
On Tuesday evening government troops shelled the village twice, but neither civilians nor Kachin resistance forces were hit by this shelling, according to local villagers. It appeared that the Burmese army had targeted the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) commander for the Hpakant area Lt-Col Nhkum Zau Doi as many of the shells landed near his home.
As of Thursday evening Kachin resistance forces based in Hpakant have yet to retaliate or respond to the shelling of Maw Mau Bum. KIA units in Hpakant have been instructed to stop carrying out attacks on government positions since last week when the government sent the KIO a letter asking for another round of peace talks, a KIA soldier based in Hpakant told KNG. The letter suggests that either the government controlled of Muse in northern Shan state or the Chinese city across the border Ruili, be the site of the next round of talks. Is unclear which city will be the location of the talks.
The senior leadership of the KIO is currently holding internal discussions in preparation for the upcoming peace talks, according to an official at the group's Laiza headquarters.
Burmese military forces units have used the brief pauses in fighting that have accompanied the previous round of peace talks to send more reinforcements to the front line, according to their opponents in the KIO.