Three young civilians were injured on Friday after shells fired by the Burma army hit Nbala Hka village in the Hpakant jade district of Kachin state, according to local residents.
All of the injured are school age boys from Nbala Hka located near the Maw Mau Layang jade mine.
Two of the injured are brothers who are ethnic Kachin. The third boy whose injuries appear to be the most serious is an ethnic Shan. All three of the boys have been sent to Hpakant town (also Hpakan or Phakant) for treatment.
The shells appeared to have been fired from the military's Strategic Command base located on a hill top near Hpakant town. Over the past few weeks the army has repeatedly fired shells from the base targeting the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)’s Battalion 6 positions in Maw Mau Bum, according to villagers. At least five rounds of shells were fired today from the base including those that hit Nbala Hka village.
Today also saw the army launch shells at other KIA’s Battalion 6 positions in the Hpakant region, including Lamawng Kawng and Seng Ja Bum, according to a KIA officer currently serving on the front line.
Despite the heavy shelling no KIA personnel were injured at Lamawng Kawng and Seng Ja Bum. These shells appear to have been fired from government positions near the Myauk Phyu jade mine.
The Hpakant district is the world's only commercially viable source of true jadeite. Major fighting to control the lucrative area has been ongoing since May. According to the UN's latest estimates between 8,000 to 10,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in the Hpakant area over the past few months.