Fighting in northern Burma’s Kachin state between the Kachin Independence Army and government forces intensified this month, according to the rebels.
La Nan, spokesperson from the Kachin Independence Organisation — the KIA’s political wing — said 52 clashes have taken place this month inside the group’s territories on the eastern banks of the Irrawaddy River.
He said fighting inside KIA brigade-5’s territory, where their stronghold Laiza is located, has been the most intense.
“We are seeing clashes inside all our brigades’ territories. There were four clashes [near] our stronghold,” said La Nan. “The clashes usually are brief but intense – the [Burmese Army] is mainly relying on artillery fire, which they are utilising on a daily basis.”
Locals in the area have been relocating to a KIO-run refugee camp in Laiza, where an estimated 15,000 refugees are living.
According to the spokesperson, KIO officials are increasingly concerned that the overcrowded camp may be hit with outbreaks of diarrhea and malaria, along with food shortages.
The KIO said it sent a letter to the Parliament’s Peace Making Committee led by Aung Thaung on April 29 asking to continue talks; however, the group claims they have yet to receive a response.
La Nan says that for the talks to progress the government’s roadmap to peace should not be one-sided affair and should include ethnic minorities voices.
Earlier this month, the president’s office announced they would be creating a new union-level peace committee that will be filled with the government’s top leaders, which hopes to end the conflict in Kachin state.
President Thein Sein claims to have ordered the government’s troops to cease combat operations in Kachin state; however fighting continues.