KIA, Burmese army clash near Hpakant

KIA, Burmese army clash near Hpakant

Burmese government forces have clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the town of Kamaing, situated between Kachin State capital Myitkyina and the jade-rich township of Hpakant. No casualties have been reported.

KIA spokesman Col. Naw Bo said the Kachin militia engaged Burmese troops along the road between Kamaing and Hpakant on Monday morning after government forces had advanced on a position where the KIA’s 6th Battalion had dug in.

“We have reports from local villagers of gunfire along the Hpakant-Kamaing Road, surrounding a strategic hilltop position known as Gongyi,” said the Kachin rebel colonel.

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“We were told the Tatmadaw [Burmese army] moved in on our positions following an alleged attack targeting a government military convoy.”

According to unconfirmed reports, a Burmese army convoy of seven vehicles heading from Mogaung town to Kamaing was hit by a detonated mine explosion near Namhai on Monday morning.

The KIA forces on the ground reported a large number of government troops mobilising in the area, he said.

Naw Bo said the KIA’s 14th Battalion in Tanai Township also came under artillery fire by government forces that same morning, however there have been no reports of head-on clashes.

The fighting between the Burmese army and KIA in Kamaing has forced more than 1,000 civilians to abandon work at gold mining sites around the town to flee to safety.

The KIA is the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), which has been involved in continuous rounds of peace talks with the Burmese government since a bilateral ceasefire broke down in 2011. Despite dozens of rounds of negotiations and a nationwide ceasefire agreement on the table, the KIA/KIO has refused to sign or call a truce; it continues to engage with Burmese troops in the northern region on a regular basis.

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