HPAKANT, BURMA — Four Burma army personnel, including an artillery expert, died last week following a munitions accident at a military base in Kachin state's jade rich Hpakant (also Hpakan, Phakant) district, the Kachin News Group has learned.
According to a source with close ties to the military the Russian-trained artillery officer and three subordinates were killed on November 21 when the 105mm howitzer shell they were attempting to fire exploded prematurely. At least four other soldiers are believed to have been injured by the explosion. The ultimate cause of the accident which took place at the Hpakant Military Strategy Command (MSC) remains unknown.
The lethal incident occurred as government forces engaged in heavy shelling of Kahcin Independence Army (KIA) positions in Maw Mau Bum, about 3 miles north-west of the Hpakant MSC, according to a KIA officer whose post was on the receiving end of numerous shells last week. The accident may have caused significant damage to the base as no more shells have been fired from Hpakant MSC since the day the alleged mishap occurred.
Local residents tell KNG that they saw government troops bury the bodies of at least three people very near to the base shortly after the explosion, a common practice for the military while operating on the frontline.
Burma's military deployed the artillery battalion to which the late troops are believed to have belonged to, shortly after the end of August when a large explosion occurred at a mine belonging to the Wai Aung Kaba Company where government forces were stationed. The August blast which was triggered by KIA guerrilla action killed more than 100 government troops, according to a local KIA officer from the group's Battalion 6.
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