Thousands of Kachin civilians living in villages in Township, the center of Burma’s lucrative jade industry, have been forced to flee as Burmese government troops mount an intensifying offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the area.
Fresh clashes that began on Monday have driven people from more than 20 villages to take shelter in 23 churches, monasteries and relief centers in the town of Hpakant, sources said. Local residents estimate the number of refugees at around 6,000, although police officials could not confirm that figure.
The exodus began on Aug. 18, when Burmese troops started moving into the area in preparation for a major offensive. The fighting is currently taking place about 5 km from Hpakant.