Residents Trapped in Kachin State as Fighting Intensifies

Battles intensify for control of Hpakant and Putao areas in Kachin State, Muse, Namtu, Theinni and Kutkai areas in northern Shan State between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burmese Army troops .

The latest round of fighting began as Burmese Army accused KIA of arresting the Kachin State Transportation Minister and three policemen on Jan 14. KIA sources say that the Transport Minister had already been released and they planned to release three policemen the next day. An official of the KIA’s 6th Battalion said, “We have a protocol that Burmese government informed KIA through Peace-talks Creation Group (PCG) about their plans prior to travelling. But Burmese officials didn’t inform KIA about the minister’s travel this time. So our frontline troops detained them. But we planned to release them. It is not a valid reason to launch an offensive.”

Burmese army seized KIA’s Ying La Bum post in 36th Battalion area in northern Shan State on Jan 13. A combined force of Burmese army troops from 46th and 137th LIBs and Ah Dang Militia troops seized KIA’s Krim Na post guarded by five soldiers in Putao area on Jan 15. Another small KIA post, Mai Sak Wang Post, located in 7th Battalion area in Hpakant area was seized by about 200 infantry troops from Burmese army’s 1st LIB and 35th LIB under 66th LID on Jan 16.

Meanwhile, battles continue to rage between KIA and Burmese Army in KIA’s 1st, 2nd and 4th Brigade areas in Kachin and northern Shan State.

A series of battles took place between KIA’s 6th Battalion troops and Burmese army troops under 66th Light Infantry Division in Hpakant jade mining area. KIA’s 6th Battalion troops on Sunday fought against Burmese Army’s 10th Light Infantry Regiment troops near Ginsi Hkaw village in Hpakant Township at around 6 am. No casualties from either side have been reported in the battle that lasted for 6 hours.

Another battle took place between KIA’s 6th Battalion troops and Burmese army’s 14th LIB troops at Tang Gau Prayer Mountain on Jan 17 at 1 pm, and the two sides battled again at 4:45 pm.

About 2000 villagers were trapped inside Awng Ba Lay village as fighting intensified in Hpakant area. Burmese army troops refused to allow a group of Christian ministers, Buddhist monks, and Civil Society Organizations who came to rescue trapped villagers to enter into Awng Ba Lay village. The rescue group with 200 cars is currently stopped at Sang Hka village.

Further up the Kachin State, 11 villagers have been trapped inside N-hka Ga village in Putao area since last Thursday. Kachin Baptist ministers made repeated attempts to rescue those trapped inside the village but Burmese army officers refused them to come to the village, reported a Putao source.

Myanmar Baptist Convention, the largest body of Christian organization in Myanmar, on Saturday issued a statement calling for the release of trapped villagers in Awng Ba Lay and N-hka Ga villages and to stop offensive operations against ethnic nationalities.

In northern Shan State, Burmese army infantry units under Kyaukme-based 1st Military Operations Command fired several artillery rounds on KIA’s 36th Battalion positions on Jan 17.

KIA sources say Burmese army’s 69th LIB troops fired 8 rounds of artillery shells on KIA’s 9th Battalion position at Dak Lek Bum in Kutkai area.