Burmese army fired 120 mm mortar shells on civilians in Hpakant township

Burmese army unit stationed at Hpakant Byuha Kone reportedly fired 120mm mortar shells on Laqmawng village and Mawmau hill for at least 24 times on Nov 2 between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm.  Some mortar shells landed in residential areas in Tahte Chaung village which is located about 4 miles from KIA’s 6th Battalion post at Mawmau hill. The shelling killed two civilians and wounded 3 others including an old woman. Sam La (age 50), Marip Naw Mai (age 12) and Marip Doi La (age 8) were wounded by the mortar shells and have been taken to Hpakant general hospital.

A local Hpakant resident says, “We don’t understand why government army is targeting Kachin villages. We understand their firing on KIA’s 6th Battalion stationed at Mawmau hill and Seng Ja hill. But why are they targeting civilians.”

Minister for the President’s office U Aung Min said in the last Ruili meeting on Oct 30 that 105 mm and 120 mm mortar shells could only be fired by the authorization of army’s chief of staff of defense services (Ka Ka Kyee) in Naypyitaw. A KIA’s 6th Battalion officer said,”It seems that generals in Naypyidaw ordered their troops to fire 120 mm mortar shells on Kachin villages”.

Delegates from Kachin Independence Organization and Burmese government met at border city Ruili on Oct 30 and agreed to begin a political dialogue in the next round of meeting. Burmese army, however, is continuously expanding and strengthening its presence in Kachin region despite the agreement to continue peace talks.