Clashes between the Kachin Independence Organization's (KIO) armed wing and the Burmese military continued in Kachin state this week, even after the KIO handed over three police officers who had been detained near Hpakant.
Heavy fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army broke out in Hpakant and Kamaing townships on 22nd January, said Major Tang San from the KIA's Battalion 6.
The KIA Major told the Kachinnews, that the heavy clashes took place when KIA troops from Battalion 6 were confronted by Burma army reinforcements on Gwi Hka road and the Kamaing to Mogaung road, near Nam San Hka stream.
“Today the fighting lasted for two or three hours. It happened in the Gwi Hka area from 10 am to 2 pm and at the Kaming side from 10:55 am to 1 pm” said Major Tang San.
In Hpakant township there was heavy fighting from the 15th to 18th January but from 19th to 21st January there were only brief clashes.
The Burma army continues to send reinforcements to Hpakant where the two sides are stationed close to each other. So it is likely there be more fighting in these coming days Major Tang San said.
At least 4 battalions from Burma army, under the command of division 66, remain deployed in Aung Ba Lay (Tang Hkawng) village. More than 1,000 villagers fled Aung Ba Lay after clashes began there last week.
The Burma army forces have prevented Hpakant township community leaders and religious leaders from evacuating displaced villagers in Ginsi. The army has also blocked aid deliveries to these people.
“They (Burma army) do not allow KBC to go there and provide rice to the villagers, and told the KBC staff that they will give it to them. Then when the army distributes the rice they tell the refugees that it is from their commander,” said one resident.
The Burma government also blocked the villagers from being interviewed by the state owned Myawaddy news agency on 21st January. The army did however give permission for about 200 students to take their exams in a school at Ginsi village.
The recent clashes in Hpakant began on January 15 after KIA troops detained three police officers who were escorting Kachin state transportation minister Kaman Du Naw on a road near Hpakant. The minister was quickly let go but the police officers were held for a few days before being released after Representative from the Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) intervened. The PCG is a group of Kachin businessmen who seek to assist the peace process in their state.
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