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The Tatmadaw appears to be pressing its advantage in Kachin State after conquering the Gidon mountaintop outpost, held until earlier this month by the Kachin Independence Army near the group’s Laiza headquarters, with a statement from Senior General Min Aung Hlaing proclaiming the capture of point 768, known by the KIA as Lai Hpawng, on Tuesday.
“The first post was overrun at 3:30pm today,” said the commander-in-chief’s statement. “Follow-up Tatmadaw offensive attacks led to the fall of the main enemy defence hill and six minor posts at 5:15pm.”
It added that the post, in Kachin State’s Waingmaw township, was “built to provide security for the communication route to KIA headquarters Laiza, Lisinpote and other posts around No. 6 boundary post.”
Separately, a statement on Tuesday from several Kachin State-based civil society groups said camps for internally displaced persons also came under attack on Tuesday.
“More than five times mortar shells have been drop [sic] near by Zai Awng/Mungga Zup IDPs camps by this late afternoon [around 7pm],” said the statement.
“IDPs are terrified by this incident and some of them are start running away from the camps and the situation become chaotic in the camps,” it said, adding that no casualties had yet been reported.
“Some [IDPs] fled to the Chinese border but they were driven back by the Chinese border guards,” Kachin Independence Organisation central committee member Doi Be Za told DVB.
Tuesday’s statement from Min Aung Hlaing did not provide a casualty count but said more information on the offensive would be forthcoming.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Burma, the Zai Awng/Mungga Zup IDP camp had a population of 2,785 as of August.
The statement from Kachin CSOs yesterday described the mood among IDPs in the affected area as “very tense” amid an escalation in the Tatmadaw’s campaign against the KIA that has included air strikes and heavy artillery fire.
“Many fear that another displacement is imminent during this winter season, which would be very challenging for them to cope with,” it said.
The Burma Army campaign to seize Gidon began in August, with the strategic outpost falling on 17 December.