Government forces in northern Burma are continuing to close in on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions, according to sources from the ethnic armed group.
KIA spokesperson Col. Naw Bo told DVB that Burmese infantry units with artillery support advanced on a KIA- controlled area along the Ingkhambum hill range in Waingmaw Township, southeast of the state capital Myitkyina, on 21 September.
“The area has been seeing clashes on a daily basis recently and on [Thursday], Burmese government forces from Myitkyina supported with heavy artillery moved in on our positions, clashing with our troops on the ground,” he said, adding the Burmese army was firing 60mm, 80mm and 120mm artillery rounds on the Kachin positions.
He added that no details on casualties were available, but noted that the clashes broke out in the jungle far from civilian areas, suggesting that the fighting hadn’t displaced any local civilians.
Elsewhere, hostilities between Burmese and KIA forces have forced thousands of villagers to flee, with many spending years in IDP camps following the collapse of a longstanding ceasefire between the two sides in June 2011.
Naw Bo said the KIA was baffled by the Burmese army’s aggression just after the conclusion of the 21st Century Panglong conference earlier this month. He added that it appeared to indicate that the government military has no wish to see peace in ethnic regions.
The latest intensification of pressure on the KIA comes a week after Burmese troops launched artillery attacks on two outposts near the group’s headquarters in Laiza, on the Burma-China border.
“We see these attacks as a harassment — an attempt to provoke fighting,” Naw Bo told DVB at the time.
On Wednesday, the Burmese armed forces mouthpiece publication Myawady News said that an ambush in Waingmaw Township had claimed the lives of an unspecified number of government troops and left several others injured.