Burmese government forces are reportedly conducting airstrikes on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions in the latest series of military skirmishes against the rebel group in Kachin State’s Mansi Township in northern Burma.
Tanaw Norman, a resident of the village of Mangkwang in Mansi Township, said three government military aircraft were spotted bombing KIA positions in an area where the group’s 3rd brigade is active.
“Earlier today [on 17 May] we spotted three aircraft attacking KIA units in two separate places, one in an area between the villages of Jezaung and Bumchaung, and another between Hkashan and U-lapan,” he said.
“We were able to see the attack in Jezaung-Bumchaung from our village of Mangkwang, and we also heard gunfire and saw smoke rising from there,” said Tanaw Norman, adding that a Chinese truck driver was said to have been injured in the attacks.
Yan Myo Aung, a resident of Mansi town, said he saw government military aircraft flying past the town on Tuesday afternoon.
“We saw the aircraft fly by the town around 2pm on [Tuesday],” he said. “Apparently they bombed targets in an area to the southeast of Mangkwang village.”
Fighting between the KIA and government forces in Mansi broke out on 15 May.
The two sides have been fighting since hostilities resumed in 2012, ending a ceasefire that had been in place since 1994.
A Burmese army offensive on the KIA’s headquarters at Laiza, on the Chinese border, in late 2012 resulted in the death of scores of government troops. In response, the Burmese army launched airstrikes on Christmas day, using five jet fighters and two helicopters gunships to pound the KIA stronghold until early in the New Year.
Since the fighting began nearly four years ago, thousands of Kachin civilians have been forced to flee their homes.
Late last year, fighting in Kachin State’s Mohnyin Township was described as the “fiercest in history” between the two armies.