Burmese troops and KIA repeatedly clash in southern Kachin state


Fighting between government forces and troops form the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) took place nearly every day last week in the Manwing area of southern Kachin state. The fighting began shortly after a military column entered into an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the KIO's armed wing.

Clashes between the Burma army's Light Infantry Division No. 88 and resistance forces from KIA battalion 27 took place at Gaw Ngu Yang near Nam Hka village, said local resident Maran Bawk who witnessed heavy gun fire on Tuesday, June 17th.

Clashes continued the next day for several hours in the same area as KIO representatives sat down with their counterparts from the government for meetings involving the Conflict Consultation Committee in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, said Zau Shan, a KIA official based in the Manwing area.

More fighting happened between the same Burmese column and the KIA Battalion 27 at Pung Ling on Friday, June 20. This was followed by further clashes at Dingga Bum on Sunday, June 22, Zau Shan said.

At the meeting last Wednesday, the government team led by Col. Than Aung, minister of Border Affairs from the Kachin state government, told his counterparts from the KIO team led by Zau Tawng, that the clashes broke out when government troops attempted to bring food rations to their front line posts, said Lamai Gum Ja, a member of the Myitkyina-based Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG).

Zau Shan, a KIA official based in the Manwing area refuted minister Than Aung’s explanation for the cause of the clashes. According to Zau Shan there aren't any Burmese military posts anywhere near to where the fighting took place.

Clashes have occurred frequently in the Manwing area between government forces and the KIA since the main KIA Battalion 27 posts in the area fell in April after a fierce offensive from government forces.

The KIO, one of only two armed groups in Burma not to sign a ceasefire agreement with the government has questioned the government's commitment to having political talks with armed ethnic groups.


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