Clashes that erupted in Kachin state in early February between the army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) could become more frequent and serious, a KIA spokesman has warned.
Recent battles have taken place in the townships of Hpakant, Mansi, Mohnyin, Putao and Sumprabum, with the army switching to using air strikes against the combined KIA and People’s Defense Force (PDF) forces.
“The KIA is standing ready on the front lines and the military council is sending reinforcements,” KIA spokesman Col. Naw Bu told Myanmar Now. “We are in a situation where a battle can break out at any time.”
KIA and Putao PDF allies attacked and seized a base belonging to an army-aligned militia near the village of Tsum Pi Yang in Putao on 1 and 2 February. In response, junta forces opened fire on the area from helicopters the next day, Col Naw Bu said.
On Monday, the army sent 200 armed people, including militiamen, to Tsum Pi Yang. The KIA-PDF alliance attacked the column in Long Sha Yan village, 20 km from Putao town.
“The situation is also very tense in these regions. The junta forces were coming from Putao towards Long Sha Yan, and they weren’t coming back, which means they were reinforcements sent to Tsum Pi Yang,” Colonel Naw Bu explained.
Tsum Pi Yang is located on the road connecting Putao to the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina. It is 78 km from the administrative center of Putao Township.
Five residents were injured in an airstrike by the army on February 3 in the area, and around 100 people fled to nearby forests. Citing the lingering tension, a villager in hiding said they still dared not go home.
“We are very afraid because we heard that there are battles every day around Long Sha Yang. We are afraid that helicopters will come here,” the villager from Tsum Pi Yang said.
He told Myanmar Now that after a week in the forests, the displaced residents needed food and warm clothes, as well as access to healthcare as some had fallen ill.
The junta also sent reinforcements to Hpakant after the February 3 attacks by KIA-PDF forces on Jar Yar Yang military base in Long Khin village of Hpakant and Maw Han police station in Hpakant township. of Mohnyin.
The reinforcements were ambushed by the KIA about 20 miles east of Hpakant, and trapped in a battle that lasted from February 4 to Monday, when the junta sent two fighter planes and a helicopter to assault to fire on the area a total of 10 times, according to locals.
An elderly man and woman were killed in the airstrikes and four other civilians were injured.
According to a village man, around 100 displaced people from three communities in the area sought refuge after the fighting in Hseng Hpa Yar on February 4.
“They are all gone now. They are still very cautious because we don’t know if more battles will break out,” he added.
The total number of casualties on either side was not known at the time of writing the report.
Although fighting ceased in the area on Tuesday, reinforcement troops were still being sent in by helicopter and locals fear the army is carrying out a ‘mine-clearing operation’ in villages along the road from Hpakant to the main town of Kamaing in the canton.
Local news sources reported that the army had recently sent a large number of troops to Kachin State from central Myanmar. Colonel Naw Bu said 40 military vehicles were seen heading towards Kachin state from Mandalay in late January, possibly bringing in troops and supplies.
Gen N’Ban La, chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization, the political wing of the KIA, vowed on Kachin Revolution Day, February 5, to eradicate the military dictatorship and called on the armed organizations in the country to support the movement and national unity. Government.
In addition to the PDF fighters, several units of the Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Arakan Army (AA) are also in KIA territory as allies of the organization.