Much-needed development programs for Myanmar’s remote, war-torn Kachin state have been hindered by fighting between the national army and an ethnic armed group, the state’s chief minister said Monday.
Myanmar’s northernmost state bordered by China and India has been rocked by a resurgence of conflict since 2011 when a 17-year bilateral cease-fire agreement between the two sides broke down. The clashes have left hundreds dead and more than 100,000 displaced.
The latest round of fighting began early this year when government soldiers launched air strikes in the Tanaing township gold and amber mining region, an area controlled by the KIA which relies on its natural resources as a source of income through the levying of a five-percent tax on mine operators.
State media have reported that that the KIA, which controls large swathes of territory in the state, including its lucrative mining areas, has conducted assaults on the regional military headquarters in Kachin since late January.
The government army has accused the Kachin rebel group of illegally using the area’s natural resources and taking money from mining businesses that should otherwise have gone to the state.
The KIA, however, has charged that Myanmar forces have attacked territory it controls in hopes of gaining control of it before a national peace conference later this month.