Villagers fleeing the violence in Putao area (Photo: KBC Kachin)
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.