Privately-owned shops are being forced to close and visitors restricted from moving around Kachin state capital Myitkyina as the Burmese army ups pressure on a ceasefire group there.
Around 30 shops were forced to close over the weekend, a Myitkyina resident told DVB. The majority of these were near to a Burmese army outpost and military training school.
“Apparently [it was done] for internal security in the army – to prevent being [sabotaged] whilst waging war at the frontline,” the man said. Tension is high between the ruling junta and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which has refused to transform into a pro-government border militia.
He added that commander-level army officials were not allowed to bring visitors to the outpost, while all civilians were banned from entering.
It follows heavy fighting earlier this month in Karen state, when forces from a breakway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) captured key government positions in Myawaddy.
Last week an order was sent from Naypyidaw to the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, ordering it to close down all but three of its offices in the northern Burmese state. A key trade route that serviced KIA territory with goods from China was also blocked by the military.
That followed the death of two Burmese army troops, who were killed on 22 November after stepping on a landmine allegedly laid by the KIA. The incident has ratcheted up animosity between KIA and the junta, who agreed a ceasefire in the mid-1990s that now appears tenuous.